Pet owners are right concerned about how to get rid of fleas on their dogs. Most dogs are allergic to the saliva of these blood-sucking parasites and prolonged infestation can result in anemia due to blood loss. Fleas also cause itching and possible infections for human pet owners! As fleas are most troublesome in the warmer, summer months, now is the perfect time to talk about how to avoid fleas on your dog and what treatments are available if you can’t avoid them.
There are a variety of products that help kill fleas on dogs, thereby reducing the chance that your pet will bring fleas into your home.
Flea collars are perhaps the simplest preventative measure. The active ingredient embedded in the collar is immediately effective and lasts approximately 6 months (depending on the manufacturer). Flea collars generally safe for most dogs (even puppies) with few side effects, but if you notice your dog scratching or any skin redness within the first day or two of wearing the collar, remove it and consult your veterinarian. One of the distinct advantages of flea collars is that, in the event of any adverse reaction, the collar can immediately removed (whereas you can’t “un-do” liquid or pill flea medications.
Liquid flea medication is another option. These products are typically sold in prepackaged, individual portions based on your dog’s weight that are applied to your dog’s skin (generally between the dog’s shoulders where the dog cannot lick the treatment site). Topical “spot on” treatments generally only provide protection for 1 to 3 months (again, depending on the brand). The medication is absorbed through your dog’s skin and into the circulatory system, which then kills fleas when they bite your dog. Though most dogs tolerate liquid flea medicine well, possible side effects can include skin irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors and seizures.
Pills / Chewables are available as an alternative to topical liquid treatments, and can provide lasting protection up to 12 weeks.
Regardless of your preferred method of treating fleas on dogs, it is important to consult your veterinarian about the different active ingredients in flea medications. Be sure to let your vet know if you can other animals in your home, as some flea medicine appropriate for dogs can be highly toxic to cars!
Treating Fleas in Dogs
If you find fleas on your dog, wash your dog with a flea shampoo, and groom his coat with a fine-toothed flea comb. Continue careful grooming over the next couple of weeks to ensure you’ve eliminated both mature fleas as well as any eggs that may hatch later.
If necessary, your veterinarian can prescribe medication that works quickly to kill fleas within a short time frame (a different medication than long-term prevention treatments).
The more difficult problem is generally how to cleanse fleas from your home! Fleas that your dog may have carried inside, tend to lay eggs in your carpet, furniture and bedding. Wash all of your dog’s bedding (as well as your own if your dog is allowed on your bed). Vacuum floors and upholstered furniture thoroughly, and throw the vacuum bag away immediately. You may wish to apply a carpet powder or insecticide spray before vacuuming. You should expect to continue your diligent cleaning protocal for 3 or 4 months to effectively remove all fleas from your home.