- Your dog can have fleas if he scratches a lot, has small red bites, or has “flea grime” on his skin.
- The best thing to do is to take a flea comb by the base of your dog’s tail and see if you can spot it.
- If your dog has fleas, topical products or flea collars can be used to remove them.
- Please refer to Insider’s Insider Reference Library for more information.
Fleas are like vampires. They feed on the blood of our furry friends, which can lead to a variety of health problems if not treated quickly. They are one of the most common pet health issues and it is crucial that you, as the pet parent, remain vigilant.
Here’s how to spot, remove, and prevent fleas.
How to tell if your dog has fleas
If your dog has fleas, there are some tell-tale signs that your puppy is being bitten. Here’s what you should do to check for fleas:
1.Notice if your dog scratches frequently: One of the tell-tale signs that your dog has fleas is not the flea itself, but your dog. If you notice your dog scratching, biting, or chewing its skin on a regular basis, it may mean he is infected with fleas.
2. Take a close look at your dog’s fur: Fleas are dark brown and very small, about 0.1 to 0.3 inches tall, the size of a tiny crumb, but they can still be seen with the naked eye, says Alison Meindl, DVM, DABVP, assistant professor at Colorado State Veterinary Teaching Hospital the University.
You can spot fleas by parting the dog’s hair and looking for them on the skin. If you find something that resembles a flea but you are not sure, a good indicator is that they are jumping around, not crawling.
Flea combs have very closely spaced teeth that are designed to pull fleas away from your hair for better identification. The best way to find fleas on an infested dog is to comb the hair at the base of your dog’s tail, Meindl says.
3. Look for flea dirt: You can identify fleas by “flea dirt,” says Gary Richter, DVM, veterinary health expert at Rover. This “dirt” is actually digested blood, and it looks like a dark, granular material, he says. If you put some water on the substance, it will turn red. This is another surefire way to identify fleas.
4. Check for bites: You may also want to keep an eye out for flea bites, which look like tiny red bumps on your dog’s skin, Richter says.
How to get rid of fleas on your dog
To get rid of your dog’s fleas, Meindl says you can use various topical products or flea collars that both kill and repel fleas. Oral medications are another option.
Is there something to kill fleas in your dog right away?
You can’t kill all of your dogs’ fleas right away, but you can kill them pretty quickly. “Some of the pharmaceutical products (usually the oral ones) kill all of the dog’s fleas in an hour or two,” says Richter.
According to Meindl, the most common ingredients in current products and flea collars are:
The 5 best flea preventions and treatments for dogs in 2021
Methoprene and pyriproxyfen are growth regulators, which means that they prevent juvenile fleas from turning into adults. While fipronil, imidacloprid and permethrin disrupt cell function, the fleas ultimately die.
“All of these drugs are very safe for both humans and dogs because they specifically target neurotransmitters that are more sensitive in insects compared to mammals,” says Meindl.
Important: Products containing permethrin can be fatal to cats. So be extra careful if you have cats around the house.
Most oral medications fall under the isoxazoline class, according to Meindl. These drugs work by causing uncontrolled neuromuscular activity that leads to the death of the fleas.
How to rid your home of fleas
You also need to rid your home of fleas. “If fleas are found in a dog or cat, every animal in the household must be treated for fleas and preventative measures, and the environment must be cleaned well. If the environment and all animals are not treated, the flea problem will continue “says Meindl.
In order to cleanse the environment, Meindl says that you:
- Vacuum all floors, especially under furniture
- Wash all linens
- Discard loose brushes or overgrown plants in the yard
- Have a professional pest control company treat your home and yard
The good news is that we have more preventive flea repellant drugs today than ever before, says Christopher Lea, DVM, DABVP, clinician at the University of Auburn Veterinary Clinic and Associate Professor at Auburn University. He says the newer isoxazoline class of oral drugs are “incredibly effective” at preventing fleas and ticks. In addition, these drugs are very safe for dogs.
Some examples of brand names for the isoxazoline class are:
It’s especially important that you use one of these preventive medications if you live in a warmer climate, Lea says, since fleas thrive in warm weather or if your dog comes into contact with wild cats or other wildlife that can carry fleas.
In addition, Richter adds that you can take other preventive measures by bathing your dog regularly and avoiding bringing him into areas where there may be a lot of fleas, such as the dog’s house. B. dog parks, or to let him take off the leash on paths.
Fleas are certainly annoying, but preventable. If your dog does get fleas, there are effective methods you can use to keep your dog healthy and flea free around you. Note, however, that it can take up to 3 months for fleas to be completely removed. Lea recommends seeing your veterinarian regularly to discuss the best preventive medications for your dog and to check on overall health.