Fleas can live on your dog and in your environment. While the irritation of fleas is usually more noticeable in spring and summer, in warmer climates around Australia fleas can stay active all year round and are a common problem even for the most well-groomed dog.
What are fleas?
Fleas are small parasitic insects that jump onto the skin and coat of pets and feed on their blood. Flea bites can cause skin irritation in your dog. Heavy flea infestations can cause serious problems including anaemia in both puppies and dogs. Dogs can also develop severe allergies to flea bites (called flea allergy dermatitis). Just one flea bite will be enough to set off days of scratching, loss of fur and cause skin sores which can be very painful for your dog.
What are signs of a flea infestation?
If your dog is constantly itching, any pet parent’s mind will quickly turn to fleas. Fleas irritate your dog’s skin and can also cause hair loss. While it may be difficult to spot actual fleas on your dog, a tell-tale sign of an infestation is flea dirt. Using a flea comb, you can search your dog’s coat for fleas and flea dirt which is the faeces left by fleas which resembles specks of ground pepper.
How did my dog get fleas?
Fleas can survive and lay dormant in their environment for long periods of time which means that ongoing flea prevention, coupled with an understanding of the flea life cycle and how to break it is necessary to keep your dog protected.
The flea life cycle explained
Though fleas are most active in warmer seasons, adult fleas can breed right through the winter, laying up to 50 eggs a day that fall off your dog’s coat and into the household. The ideal places for these eggs to develop include the carpet, garden and even cracks between floorboards and tiles.
Fleas are very adaptable and while their development from egg to adult may only take a couple of weeks in ideal temperature conditions, fleas can remain dormant in their pupal stage for up to 6 months before they emerge as adults. This is why the impact of eggs being laid during the household in winter may not be seen until a ‘spring outbreak’ occurs.
Adult fleas will find something warm like your pet and immediately bite and feed. The cycle will continue when they find a mate to breed and produce more eggs. This is why treating your dog and your environment and its environment is the only way to ensure you have broken the flea cycle and stay protected.
How can I protect my dog from fleas?
It is essential that you choose a flea protection program that is safe and effective for your pet and environment that will ensure every life cycle of the flea is treated – from eggs to larvae to pupae and to adult fleas.
Try Petbarn’s Flea Tick and Worm Treatment Finder to discover the best product combination to ensure your dog is 100% protected against parasites. Remember that fleas will spend most of their life in your pet’s environment. If you’re treating your pet for fleas but not your environment, those fleas will keep hatching and latching onto your pet! Follow the below steps to protect your family against flea infestations.
- Remove the fleas currently on your dog using flea tablets, spot-ons, flea shampoos, flea rinses and sprays. While these will kill existing fleas in your dog’s coat, they will not protect them against further infestations
- Clean your environment and break the flea cycle by thoroughly vacuuming your house to remove any dormant eggs, regularly washing you and your pet’s bedding and using pesticides to treat the inside and outside of your home.
- For ongoing protection, Petbarn stocks a wide range of flea treatments including spot-ons, oral tablets and flea collars. Use our Flea, Tick and Worm Treatment Finder tool to find the parasite prevention products that best suit your unique pet.
For more advice on how to treat your dog for fleas and to break the flea life cycle, speak with your local Greencross Vets.