If you were to ask any experienced dog owner what it is that they dread most about the hot summer season, the topic of fleas will more than likely come up. Fleas are small, dark brown insects that thrive in areas with warm temperatures and high humidity that feed off of your dog’s blood.
Dogs can become infested with fleas through direct contact with them in the environment, or through contact with another animal that is infested. Fleas have super strong back legs that allow them to quickly jump from the wild or their previous host to their new host- your dog!
Flea bites your will leave your dog with countless itchy spots along their body. Some of the signs that your dog has fleas to be aware of include excessive scratching, biting or licking at the skin, hair loss and pale gums. Due to the fact that fleas consume blood, if they are not treated in a timely manner it can cause the dog to lose a significant amount of blood or become anemic. With that being said, it is essential that you begin to treat your dog’s flea infestation as soon as it becomes apparent to prevent any further issues from arising in the future.
Controlling the Indoor Flea Population
If you discover that your dog has fleas, this also means that these pests are roaming freely around your home. It is essential to kill off any remaining adults and prevent any of their eggs from hatching. Begin by vacuuming every last inch of your home. Pay close attention to the areas where your pet sleeps, as well as below furniture and under drapes. Experts believe that thoroughly vacuuming your home can remove as much as 50% of fleas in a house. You should never place any kind of flea medications or mothballs into the vacuum because they may release toxic fumes into the air. When you are done vacuuming, seal your vacuum bag or place the excess residue in a plastic bag and throw it away immediately.
The next step is to use a product that will kill any fleas that are still lingering around your home. Look for a product that contains an insect growth regulator, such as methoprene or pyriproxyfen, and an adulticide. As ever, be vigilant and ensure that none of the ingredients are harmful to your dog or children. Indoor flea treatment options are available in the form of sprays, foggers and carpet powders. They are available at most pet stores.
Lastly, you want to be sure to wash your dog’s bedding and toys once per week. Not only will this kill off fleas, but it will also help to prevent them from coming back. Do not forget to treat other indoor areas, including automobiles, basements and anywhere else your dog spends time.
Controlling the Outdoor Flea Population
The next step to getting rid of fleas once and for all is eliminating them in the outdoor areas of your home. This typically involves treating the kennel areas and lawn with an outdoor spray that targets fleas. Focus on areas that are moist and warm with plenty of natural debris, because these are the habitats that fleas enjoy the most. In addition, rake away any leaves, grass clippings and straw as it will help to destroy their habitats.
Depending on the product that you chose, you may have to treat the yard every one to two weeks. Always take caution when using insecticides around water sources because you do not want your dog or any other animals to become poisoned by drinking the tainted water.
Flea Control on Your Dog
Now that you have taken care of fleas indoors and outdoors, it is time to treat your dog!
The first step is to give your dog a good bath with a gentle flea-killing shampoo or a citrus-based dish-washing detergent- this will help to rinse away a number of fleas from your dog’s fur. Proceed to comb out the fur with a flea comb shortly after you’ve finished the bath to remove any excess eggs. Keep a small bowl of soapy water by your side to rinse any eggs or fleas away.
You can now choose from various oral and topical medications to help further treat the flea infestation. For maximum results, you can use oral and topical medications at the same time. You should be sure to follow the instructions and not use more than the recommended dosage, as there is always the possibility of overdose or other dangerous side effects. If any out-of-the-ordinary symptoms arise, be sure to stop using the product immediately and contact your veterinarian as soon as possible for further treatment recommendations. On the other hand, if your dog reacts well to the medication, continue treating them with your choice of flea preventive every 30 days to keep the flea population under control.
Many pet owners have found success with various natural remedies when it comes to eliminating fleas. For example, you can try rubbing your pets’ fur with citrus because it can repel the fleas, whilst being safe for your dog to consume if they lick themselves shortly after application. You may also try adding apple cider vinegar to your dog’s water. As they consume the water, the vinegar will get into their system and will make their blood taste awful to fleas!
You will need to continue treating the flea infestation by thoroughly washing your pet’s bedding items as well as any other toys and cloth items that they have been in contact with. The wash cycle will kill fleas and rid the items of eggs. In addition, drying the items will kill any insects that the washer left behind. As mentioned earlier, it is important that you make the effort to wash their bedding as often as possible, as doing this will significantly reduce the number of flea larvae and legs in your home and on your pet, reducing the likelihood of future outbreaks.
Once you have gotten rid of the fleas in your home, your can prevent them from coming back by regularly using flea-repelling shampoos or adding a few drops of lavender, tea tree or citronella essential oils to your dog’s regular shampoo. Not only will this leave them smelling fabulous, but it will keep them free from those stubborn fleas for a long time to come.