Fleas in dogs: everything you need to know

Oh dear, your furry friend can't get out of the itching and scratching and the flea alarm bells are ringing for you? Don't worry! Fleas are annoying and unpleasant companions for your dog, but if you act quickly, a flea infestation usually does not pose much danger to him. We'll explain how to recognize the hopping parasites and how to spoil their fun.

Recognizing fleas in dogs: symptoms

A flea infestation in your pet is not always easy to recognize. Especially if the infestation is still low, the parasites often go unnoticed, as they often only cause problems for your furry friend when they reproduce strongly. Your dog may have these symptoms and signs:

  • itching caused by flea saliva on the skin,
  • frequent licking of the fur,
  • red dots on the skin, often in a line, caused by flea bites or flea bites,
  • Flea droppings in the fur,
  • restlessness and nervousness, as well as
  • allergic reactions.

Fleas in dogs – these are the dangers

If your dog has an allergy to fleas, a so-called flea saliva allergy, there is an overreaction of his immune system, which causes skin inflammation and hair loss that can spread throughout the body.

In the worst case, a very pronounced flea infestation can lead to a lack of blood in your dog , which can severely weaken him. In addition, fleas can carry larvae of the cucumber seed tapeworm. If the dog swallows them with its teeth while scratching, there is a risk that a larva of the infected flea in its stomach will develop into a tapeworm. Cucumber seed tapeworms are one of the most common worms in dogs and can cause major health problems such as diarrhea or loss of appetite. That's why you should treat your furry friend quickly if you notice the little bloodsuckers on her.

Our tip: To detect fleas early, you can work on your dog's coat at regular intervals with a flea comb. Because the more fleas have been able to develop, the more difficult it is to get rid of the pests. Go through the dog's fur with the flea comb and tap the comb out on a kitchen towel. If small dark dots fall off, crush them on the cloth. If the crumbs form reddish spots, they are flea droppings and you can take immediate action to combat them. If you don't notice any reddish discoloration, you can rest assured: It's just dirt and your furry friend may need a shower again.

Fleas in dogs – Treatment

If your dog has fleas, quick treatment is necessary to prevent the parasites from spreading. Here's how to do it:

  • Off to the vet! The first thing you should do is go to the vet. He prescribes effective preparations for flea treatment in the form of tablets, powders or sprays.
  • Deworming:

A worming treatment is also useful to combat possible tapeworms by swallowing infected fleas.

  • Cleaning the environment:

Clean up your dog's environment. Only a small proportion of fleas sit on your four-legged friend - most bloodsuckers are distributed throughout your home: on the dog blanket, the sofa, the bed or other textiles with which your furry friend has had contact. Therefore, wash the fabrics regularly in the washing machine at at least 60 degrees or take them to the dry cleaners. Carpets and other fabrics that you can't wash are best treated with vermin sprays. You can also get these environmental sprays from the veterinarian. Frequent vacuuming is also coming your way. After each vacuum, you should replace the bag.

Phew – flea control is in for a strenuous few weeks for you and your furry friend! In order for eggs and larvae to disappear and not develop, you have to hold out for three months and clean everything regularly. But with a little patience you can get the flea problem under control!

Preventing fleas in dogs

To avoid a flea infestation and a nerve-wracking time for you and your dog, you can use preventative measures:

Spot-ons: You apply these flea remedies directly to the skin of your fluffy pet. The amount depends on your dog's weight and size. It is best to seek advice from your veterinarian. All you need to do is apply a spot-on every four weeks. Sources of error here can be: an incorrect dosage, spot on sticks mainly to the hair/skin crusts and does not come into sufficient contact with the skin.

  • Tablets: You can also get chewable tablets for your dog at the vet.
  • Collars: There is also the possibility to put a flea collar on your dog to protect him against it.
  • Hygiene: The easiest way to prevent fleas from spreading is to wash all your four-legged friend's textiles regularly and check them briefly after each walk. This way you can detect ticks at an early stage. Mistakes are often made here by forgetting the car or other apartments where the dog is staying
  • Home remedies: In the case of a severe flea infestation, herbal alternatives to insecticidal flea remedies are usually not sufficient to combat the flea infestation. On the other hand, they are a good choice for prevention and support in the event of infestation. Many dog owners like to rub their pets with coconut oil. The smell is unpleasant for fleas, and the lauric acid it contains scares them away. At the same time, your four-legged friend gets shiny, easy-to-comb coat thanks to the special coat care.

How does a dog get fleas?

If you are outside with your dog, there is a chance that he will be infested with fleas. The parasites hop on your dog from the environment like from the grass or abandoned bird's nests and make themselves comfortable in his fur. If you notice a flea infestation in your pet, you should keep it away from other fleas, because fleas particularly like to jump from dog to dog. They feel particularly comfortable in the cozy atmosphere of your home and their meals are also taken care of: fleas feed on the blood of the host animal. Under these optimal conditions, they multiply rapidly. The flea population goes through different stages of development:

  • Eggs: Once a female flea has filled her belly with her first blood meal, she is already laying the first flea eggs – 20–40 eggs per day! The eggs are smooth and non-sticky, so they will easily fall off your dog and continue to develop in their environment.
  • Larvae: After 2–5 days, larvae hatch from the eggs , which can grow up to 5 mm long. The flea larvae are sensitive to heat and light and therefore stay in the warm fur of your four-legged friend or wander into sofa cracks, his dog blanket or other textiles. Flea larvae feed on flea droppings.
  • Pupae: Once the larvae have found ideal conditions, they molt twice until they pupate. To do this, they spin a cocoon in which they can develop in a protected environment.
  • Adult flea: The adult flea hatches after about 8–10 days if there is a suitable host nearby. After hatching and the first blood meal, the cycle starts all over again. The adult flea usually accounts for only 5% of the total infestation. 95% are eggs, larvae and pupae. Therefore, it is particularly important to treat the dog's environment as well.

Note: Fleas are insects that live on the dog itself in the adult stage and feed on its blood. The stages of development (eggs, larvae, pupae) are usually not on the dog, but in its environment (sofa, blankets, dog bed, car, etc.)

Frequently asked questions about fleas in dogs

What fleas can dogs infest?

There are about two thousand species of fleas in the world that can torment humans and animals. The most common types of fleas in a dog's coat include:

  • Dog flea: The dog flea, also called Ctenocephalides canis, prefers our furry noses as a host according to its name, but is not common in dogs .
  • Cat flea: The cat flea is the most common infestation in dogs. Outwardly, it hardly differs from the dog flea. Both are brownish in color and up to 5 mm in size. Only the head of the cat flea is a little shorter.
  • Human flea: In addition to humans, the main host of the human flea is the dog, but there it is a rare uninvited guest.

Where do fleas sit in dogs?

Fleas can theoretically infest the entire dog's body. However, they prefer to attach themselves to places with thin dogs: on the ears, the inner thighs, the croup, i.e. the back of the back, on the dog's back, at the base of the tail and on the belly.

Fleas from dog to human: do fleas jump over?

Fleas can also pass to humans. However, we are not their first choice and only serve as a stopgap solution if there is no suitable host animal nearby. As a rule, it is too cold for the bloodsuckers in humans: they prefer the warm fur of our four-legged friends. However, as an intermediate host, we humans can also suffer from the bites of the parasites: they can cause skin inflammation and itching.

Conclusion: Fleas are annoying fellows that can be unpleasant for you and your furry friend. If you notice fleas in your dog, quick action is required. However, with the right methods and some perseverance, you can end the flea circus. How long did it take you to put an end to the little pests? Or have you been able to avoid it so far with the right prevention? Feel free to tell us about your flea experiences!

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