Fleas: Everything You Need To Know To Protect Your Dog

When

you are a dog owner, there are some things you absolutely have to know all about. You’ve likely got the basics covered pretty well, but some areas of pet care are a bit complex. One major problem we hear about is how difficult it is to understand fleas. You may have lots of questions regarding these pests. What do fleas look like? How do I get rid of them? Are they harmful to me? Why do the fleas keep coming back? These questions and the situations themselves are definitely frustrating.

Before you get too overwhelmed, you should know that we’ve got you covered. This post and our post ‘Fleas On Dogs!’ tell you everything you need to know about flea care for your furry friend. This post in particular details everything you’ll need to know about fleas – what they do, who they harm, and much more. From definitions to instructions, we’ve got you totally covered!  We’re here to help you give your dog the best care possible, and part of that is helping you understand everything about these pests.

Why Do Fleas Like Dogs?

Theanswer to this question is fairly simple. Fleas are parasites, and they feed off of mammals. They will bite and drink blood from any animal that they come into contact with. It’s also fairly common for fleas to prey on mammals while they are resting or napping. Lastly, dogs often spend time both indoors and outdoors – this can increase their exposure to fleas. As you can see, your pup is sadly an ideal candidate for a flea attack.

Unfortunately, we’ve got some bad news – fleas like your home, too. If they are on your dog, they’re in your house! They live in carpets, bedding, towels, and pretty much any other similar surface you can think of. This means you’ll have to treat your home to completely eliminate any fleas and flea eggs. You may also need to treat yourself if you’ve been bitten by fleas. But don’t worry, we’ve got all of the information you need on this topic- below you’ll find some excellent methods for treating a flea infestation in your home.

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Can You See Fleas On Your Dogs?

Unfortunately,

there is not a definitive ‘yes’ or ‘no” answer to this question. Whether or not you can see fleas may depend on how bad your dog is afflicted by them. You may be able to see fleas on your dog if there’s a bad infestation at hand. These tiny insects will be moving and jumping across your dog’s body. You’re also likely to see flea dirt if your dog has or recently had a bad infestation. However, you may not always be able to see these parasites if the infestation is mild. There are a few places you should check on your dog to see if he has fleas or flea dirt. These places include your dog’s:

  • Armpits
  • Groin
  • Back
  • Legs
  • Stomach

Checking your dog’s coat and skin is a lot easier if you have a flea comb. This is an ultra fine tooth comb designed to thoroughly inspect your dog for fleas, ticks, and other insects. As an added bonus, it can also help you remove flea dirt if you find it on your dog’s skin.

If you’re wondering what fleas look like, it’s important to know that there are approximately 2,500 different types of fleas. Each type has a unique look to it. However, fleas are generally black, dark brown, or light brown. The eggs are very small and white, and they may look somewhat translucent. The eggs may be more difficult to detect than the fleas themselves due to their size and color.

How To Know If Your Dog Has Fleas

Fleas

are very small creatures, but they are not impossible to see. Check your dog closely for small, dark-colored bugs that seem to fly or jump. You may not see any on your dog, but that does not mean he is free of fleas. So, you’ve got to make sure that you look for other telltale signs.

Flea dirt is one of the biggest signs that your dog has fleas. Flea dirt is a mix of flea feces and blood, and it gets stuck to your dog’s skin and coat. It may look similar to a sprinkling of black pepper, but it should turn reddish-brown when you wipe it with a damp cloth.

Aside from flea dirt, there are other ways to tell whether or not your poor pup may be infested with fleas. Look for these signs of fleas on your dog:

  • Flea dirt on your dog’s hair or skin
  • Flea eggs (see how to identify flea eggs below)
  • Skin inflammation
  • Excessive scratching
  • Excessive biting
  • Scabs or red spots
  • Loss of hair
  • Tapeworms (which should be treated using products like this one)

If you are still unsure whether or not your dog has fleas, you have another option. Try setting a flea trap or two around your home. You can check the traps to see if fleas stick to them. This will give you 100% solid proof that you’ve got a flea problem on your hands.

How To Get Fleas Off Of Your Dog

So,

by now you know whether or not your dog has fleas. If he does, there’s truly no need for you to panic. This problem is, by all means, frustrating, but there are dozens of flea removal products that you can use on your dog. These products and tools are widely considered safe, and they are a small price to pay for your dog’s comfort. Some of the best ways to get fleas off of dogs include:

  • Flea medicine for dogs – There are many different types of flea medicines for you to choose from. Oral medications are one popular option and topical ointments are another. It is crucial to use these products as directed in order to get the best results. If you choose to use flea medication on your dog, check out this informative Humane Society page. It explains the various ingredients in flea medications and some tips for safely using them on your dog.
  • Flea removal combs – As mentioned above, flea removal combs are an inexpensive yet effective way to remove these nasty parasites from your dog. The combs are typically crafted from metal or plastic, and the teeth are extremely close together. If you’ve never used a flea comb before, don’t worry too much – they are fairly easy to use.
  • Flea removal shampoo – Giving your dog a warm bath and using flea removal shampoo is a highly effective way to remove flea, flea dirt, and eggs. The shampoo we recommended contains soothing ingredients like aloe and lanolin. We suggest using a flea removal comb during the bathing process, too. This can help you get every inch of your dog’s coat free of these pests.
  • Flea and tick removal wipes – These wipes are an excellent item to have on hand in case you spot a persistent flea or two after you’ve treated your dog. They kill fleas and other insects without harming your pet. They’re also safe for use on counters and other surfaces, so your home is protected as well. Having these handy can help you get rid of every single flea that’s pestering your pup.

Getting rid of fleas on dogs is something that may take time. Until your entire home and all of your surroundings are treated for fleas, your dog may become re-infested. That’s why it’s so crucial to clean your home as well as your dog. Continue reading, and you’ll find out how easy it is to rid your home of fleas.

Natural Remedies For Getting Fleas Off Of Your Dog

Like

many pet owners, you may prefer to stick with homemade remedies when taking care of your pet. That way you know exactly what ingredients your dog is being exposed to. The good news is that there are a handful of homemade solutions for getting fleas off your dog. We did some research to find popular and effective solutions. They are highlighted below:

  • Use an all-natural dish soap when giving your dog a bath. One popular home remedy for treating fleas is giving a dog a bath using regular dish soap. However, regular dish soap does have chemicals and artificial ingredients that you may be unfamiliar with. Buy some all-natural dish soap and wash your dog with it when giving him a bath to safely get him flea-free.
  • Use an all-natural shampoo when giving your dog a bath. Another home remedy suggests using anti-dandruff shampoos or a gentle shampoo to give your dog a flea bath. However, these products contain sulfates, dyes, and other chemicals that can potentially irritate your dog. Try a completely natural shampoo like the one we recommended to safely bathe your dog.
  • Use apple cider vinegar when giving your dog a bath. You can also make an apple cider vinegar spray to mist your dog with. This instructional article details how you can use apple cider vinegar to eradicate fleas from your dog’s coat. Combine one cup of apple cider vinegar with one quart of warm water, and rinse your dog with this mixture. For an extra powerful flea bath, you can mix one cup or two cups of apple cider vinegar with one of the bath options above or with castile soap.

These are a few of the safest and simplest options available. Some dog owners suggest using citrus juice to treat fleas, but this may irritate your dog. This is especially true if your dog’s skin is inflamed or irritated from the flea bites. Stick with solutions that don’t pose risks to your pup. After all, the last thing you want to do is cause more discomfort for him!

Treating A Flea Infestation In Your Home

As

we mentioned earlier, your home has fleas if your dog has fleas. This is not pleasant news by any means, but it’s definitely something you can handle. There are plenty of cleaning methods you can use to rid your home of these tiny and troublesome parasites. There are also several high-quality products available that are designed specifically to treat flea infestations within homes. When you are treating your home, keep these steps in mind:

  • Wash all of the fabric items in your home. Make sure to use the hottest water possible for the fabric items that you wash. Any laundry detergent you use should be suitable, but there is detergent made specifically for treating fleas, lice, and similar creatures. If you have a severe infestation, we suggest using a product like this. When it comes to fleas, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
  • Use a flea spray for furniture. This stuff is a truly a breeze to use throughout your entire home. Just mist your couches, chairs, and other upholstered items and you’re good to go. The spray we’ve suggested is also made of safe and natural ingredients. That means you can safely use it on your kitchen countertops, flooring, and other surfaces throughout your home.
  • Thoroughly vacuum and clean your carpets. Cleaning and vacuuming your carpets will get rid of fleas and flea eggs. You can use a flea spray for carpets to kill fleas and eggs and prevent reinfestation for several months. This flea carpet powder can also eliminate fleas, eggs, and ticks, and it may prevent reinfestation for up to one year.
  • Don’t forget to treat the exterior of your home. Flea treatment in your front and back yards is just as important as flea treatment in your home. Start out by raking up or removing any damp debris like wet leaves. Then mow your lawn; this reduces the places that fleas have to live and hide. Apply flea killing granules to your lawn to eliminate fleas and prevent them from coming back.

Can Humans Get Fleas From Dogs?

We

mentioned earlier that fleas feed off of warm-blooded mammals. Unfortunately, that includes humans. If your dog brings fleas into your home, there’s a good chance that you may fall prey to them, too. Some symptoms of flea bites include small red bumps or bites that appear in groups of three or four. These bumps may be itchy or even painful. It’s important that you check yourself for flea bites so that you can treat them. You can often find flea bites around the following areas:

  • Ankles
  • Legs
  • Waist
  • Groin
  • Armpits
  • Chest
  • Elbow folds
  • Knee folds
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If you do notice that you have bites, take a deep breath – this problem is totally treatable. You and your dog can both be free of flea bites in time, but you’ve got to take the right measures. Unlike your pup, you don’t necessarily need to use medications or special shampoos for your bites. They will clear up on their own as long as you get rid of the fleas in your home. But you may want to treat the itchiness, soreness, or redness of your flea bites. You can do so by:

  • Applying hydrocortisone, a topical steroid, to the bites. Hydrocortisone reduces swelling and itchiness. It’s easily accessible and comes in the form of creams and sprays. Make sure to apply these products as directed so that you don’t dry out your skin too much. Stronger doses of hydrocortisone cream can be prescribed by your physician if you have persistent or extremely itchy bites.
  • Using a steroid-free anti-itch cream. If you aren’t too keen on using a topical steroid, you certainly do not have to. You can opt for natural products that will provide you with the same type of relief. The anti-itch cream that we’ve suggested contains soothing ingredients like aloe, tea tree oil, and vitamin E.
  • Using colloidal sulfur for 100% vegan-friendly relief. If you are vegan or avoid using animal products, then this is totally ideal for you. Colloidal sulfur is soothing, natural, and it can be used on both you and your dog. In addition to alleviating flea bite symptoms, it can treat other types of insect bites. Having it on hand is excellent, especially during summer when the mosquitoes are buzzing around!
  • Soak in your own ‘flea bath’ for soothing relief. Don’t worry – we aren’t telling you to soak in dog shampoo or anything. But to alleviate some of your itching, try taking a nice warm oatmeal bath. You can also create a DIY oatmeal bath using colloidal oatmeal and your favorite bubble bath or essential oils. In addition to reducing itching, it can leave your skin feeling soft and smooth – not a bad bonus if you ask us.

What Are Some Methods Of Flea Prevention?

Okay,

so you’ve covered all of the bases, right? Your dog has been treated, your home has been treated, and you’ve treated yourself. These are all great measures, but it’s equally important to explore methods of flea prevention. You certainly don’t want to keep dealing with this problem over and over. So, how can you prevent fleas from latching onto your dog? We’ve listed a few options that are highly effective below:

  • Put a flea collar on your dog. Flea collars are coated with insecticides, and they help keep fleas and other small insects away from your dog. There are also natural and herbal flea collars that use non-chemical insecticides to protect your pup. No matter what collar you choose, make sure to use it as instructed. Also, make note of how long the insecticide lasts so that you know when to replace the flea collar.
  • Use flea repellant drops. Want a totally natural way to repel pesky parasites from your dog? Use these drops that are crafted from essential oils by applying them to your dog’s coat. These drops are only effective for a few days, so they are a good backup to use along with a flea collar or other long-term solution. There are medicine-based options available that are considered very effective, too. Medicine based drops last a few weeks, so this may be a better option if you want a low-maintenance solution.
  • Give your dog a dietary supplement that prevents fleas. These chewable supplements are made from vitamins that are safe for dogs to consume. However, it’s important to note that these do not start working instantly. They need about 30 days to build up in your dog’s system, but then they offer long-term flea prevention. Make sure that you know the weight of your dog before using these, as the amount you give is determined by your pup’s weight. As an added bonus, these supplements can also work for cats.
  • Sprinkle diatomaceous earth around your home, your lawn, and your home’s exterior. This non-toxic substance is mineral based and safe for animals and humans, but it destroys insects like fleas and roaches. It works by damaging the exoskeleton of these insects, and it is known for working fairly quickly. You can sprinkle it in your home and yard, especially in areas that your dog tends to spend time. Many pet owners sprinkle it in their carpets and around their doorways to keep fleas and other pests away.

Is There Anything Else To Know About Fleas?

We

hope that this article has covered everything you’ve ever wanted or needed to know about fleas. From what they look like to how to eliminate them, we want to help you out in every way possible. We’re confident that we’ve covered everything, but never hesitate to comment or ask questions! Your furry friend is important to you, so getting all of the answers you need is an absolute must.

If your dog seems to have a recurring flea problem no matter what you do, consult with your veterinarian. These solutions should work, so there may be a problem at hand if they do not. In some cases, pet owners mistake other skin problems for flea bites because they look extremely similar. For example, what you see as flea bites may be a rash or another type of insect bite. Our article ‘Can Dogs Get Lice?’ is a prime example of another pest problem that dogs are afflicted with. Trust your gut instinct if you are worried about your furry friend.