Fleas are small, flat, brown insects measuring a few millimeters in diameter. They move around by jumping and can infect pets. When this is the case, they can become a real scourge. Both through the symptoms it can cause in dogs and the difficulty that there can be in eradicating them. From this article, you will know about dog fleas.
The most common species found in dogs is Ctenocephalides felis , the same as in cats. It may also more rarely be Ctenocephalides canis.
However, the species does not change the symptoms or the behavior to take.
Life cycle and contamination
The life of a flea breaks down into several stages: egg, then larva, then nymph and finally adult. Only adult fleas infect dogs. All other stages take place in the environment. The duration of this cycle varies depending on the outdoor temperature conditions. When in a warm and cozy environment, such as our homes and apartments, the eggs hatch in a few days and continue their cycle to continue to proliferate. This is why contamination of a dog can quickly lead to contamination of its environment, in a short time and even from a single chip. Conversely, the eggs can also survive for several months in the environment. And it is therefore possible to see fleas reappear when we thought we had got rid of them.
The dog can become infected in two ways:
- From the environment: When passing through a contaminated environment, fleas can jump on the dog.
- In contact with animals carrying fleas: dogs, cats, but also hedgehogs and other wild animals.
Symptoms of dog fleas
The adult flea is a hematophagous insect, that is, it feeds on the blood of its host. A flea infestation can cause symptoms on several levels.
Most often, the main symptoms are dermatological. Flea saliva is indeed irritating and the bites cause itching of varying intensity. Sometimes not very intense, they can go unnoticed. Conversely, they can be more marked, even very intense.
Some dogs in particular are allergic to flea saliva. In this case, in addition to the itching, the dog may present with hair loss especially on the lower back, stomach and sides, as well as redness, pimples and scabs. It referrers to as Allergy Dermatitis or Hypersensitivity to Flea Bites (DAPP or DHPP). These diseases are often on the rise in spring and fall, periods more favorable to the development of fleas. But the presence of fleas can observe all year round, especially in homes.
Fleas are also often carriers of tapeworm eggs. A flea infestation is therefore usually accompanied by the transmission of intestinal parasites, although this does not necessarily translate into symptoms. These parasites can sometimes see as small white worms resembling grains of rice on the area around the anus of the animal.
Finally, in the event of a dog’s massive infestation by fleas, the amount of blood taken by the insects becomes significant and can lead to anemia. In this case, the dog is especially very tired.
Considering the small size of fleas and the skin surface area of some large dogs. It is not always easy to observe fleas directly, especially if they are few in number. Most often, we look for signs of their presence, especially their droppings. They appear in the form of small blackish films at the base of the hairs. However, even without these clues, their presence will still suspect if the dog is not up to date with its flea treatments.
Sometimes the dog does not show any symptoms, but its owners are itching! This is because if the environment is infested with fleas, humans can also get bitten.
Dog flea treatment
The first step in dealing with a flea infestation is to treat the dog, and other household pets, with effective and regular pest control. There are different molecules acting according to various modes of action and in various forms: pipettes, collars, tablets, sprays. Treatments with shampoo or powders are generally no longer prescribed because they are most often ineffective. It is important to seek advice from a veterinarian who will able to prescribe the treatment best suited to your animal and its lifestyle.
In the event of an allergic reaction, treatment is often necessary to calm the reaction. The itching can last for several weeks after the fleas have been eradicated. Depending on the lesions and their extent, the veterinarian may prescribe treatment based on anti-inflammatory drugs, or even antibiotics if the skin is superinfected.
An environmental treatment may also be necessary in addition. This often comes in the form of diffusers or foggers, to be diffused in strategic places. Careful cleaning is often recommended for areas where eggs develop more particularly: cushions, blankets, mattresses, rugs in particular. Finally, following a flea infestation, it is generally advisable to deworm the dog because of the risk of transmission of tapeworms.
Prevention of dog fleas
The best prevention is to treat your dog regularly for fleas. It is recommended to do this all year round because it is the only way to be sure to avoid contamination. Most of the time, these treatments are to be administered every month. Take advice from your veterinarian. It is sometimes difficult to navigate the multitude of existing products but using an effective product is essential!