Fleas are an annoyance. These microscopic blood-sucking parasites irritate your dog and infest your home, often before you realize it. Flea bites can cause intense scratching, red and flaky skin, scabs, hot areas, and hair loss in many dogs. Tap worm and anemia can also be caused by fleas.
Fleas prefer animal hosts but will bite humans if animals are not available. They can spread disease-causing pathogens by feeding on hosts or by fecal contamination (when contaminated flea feces are scratched into an open wound).
If you and your dog are scratching your heads and you’re wondering how to kill dog fleas, we’ve got you covered. Here are the four steps you need to take to eliminate these unwelcome freeloaders:
1. Understand the Flea’s Life Cycle
The first step is to comprehend the adversary. Fleas go through four stages of development:
They then hatch into larvae that can roam around the host and feed on blood and flea dirt (adult flea blood is eaten). During the pupa stage, they build cocoons and wait for several days or up to a year—ideally in the warmth of your carpet, sofa, or bed—for a warm-bodied host to come. They hatch, mature, and then infest their animal hosts, such as your dog.
It’s crucial to understand these stages since different flea treatments for dogs address different stages of the flea’s life cycle, so read the label and follow the advice before using any flea removal products.
2. Flea facts
Fleas are an external parasite. Fleas come in a variety of kinds, including dog fleas, cat fleas, rabbit fleas, and human fleas. Many flea species have the ability to infest many host species.
- Fleas only suck blood from their hosts as adults. Adult fleas have mouthparts that are adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood from their hosts.
- A flea can live for 14 days to a year, and a female can lay up to 50 eggs in one day, for a total of 1,500 in her lifetime.
- Some fleas can jump more than a hundred times their body length.
- 95 percent of flea eggs, larvae, and pupae are thought to exist in the environment rather than on your pet.
3. Prevention and Treatment
Prevention is the most effective strategy to deal with fleas. Flea and tick repellents destroy fleas that come into contact with your dog, preventing them from entering your home in the first place. There are numerous choices available, ranging from flea collars to topical solutions and medications. Consult your veterinarian about the best flea prevention for your puppy or dog.
If your dog already has fleas, these preventatives will kill them; however, you may need to use more extreme measures, such as a prescription preventative. Consult your dog’s veterinarian for advice. You can also use a flea shampoo or a fast-acting chemical treatment, such as a flea pill, that kills the fleas on your dog within hours. Again, it’s important to ask your dog’s veterinarian for recommendations.
4. Preventing Fleas on Your Pets
Dogs and cats are very susceptible to fleas, but they can be protected. To prevent fleas on your pet:
5. Signs your pet might have fleas
There are a few things you can look out for that could mean your pet has fleas:
If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, it could mean fleas.
6. Common Fleas of the United States
Cat Flea (Ctenocephalides felis)
- Flea-borne (murine) typhus and cat scratch disease (CSD) are both transmitted.
- Comments: Despite its name, the “cat flea” is the most frequent flea seen on pets (including dogs) and other domestic animals in the United States.
Dog Flea (Ctenocephalides canis)
- Transmits: Aids in spreading Dipylidium caninum, a tapeworm commonly found in dogs and cats, but occasionally found in humans.
- Comments: Despite the name, the dog flea is not a common flea of the domestic dog in the United States.
Ground Squirrel Flea (Oropsylla montana)
- Transmits: Plague
- Comments: Frequently associated with ground squirrels, including California ground squirrels and rock squirrels, which are known to aid in the spread of plague bacteria to people in the United States.
Cat Flea (Ctenocephalides felis)
- The adult cat flea, unlike many other fleas, remains on the host.
- Adults require a fresh blood meal in order to reproduce.
7. Flea treatment
It’s essential to treat both your pet and your home, as fleas can survive in the environment without a host for many months. Flea treatment can easily be done at home, so here’s how to do it:
- Flea treatments: prevent and get rid of fleas by regularly using flea treatments for your pets. See your vet for advice on the best flea products that will work for your pet.
- If you find fleas on your pet, treat them right away because they can transmit tapeworms and infections to your cat or dog (make sure you also worm your pet).
- To help eradicate fleas at each step of their lifecycle, clean bedding on a regular basis and vacuum furniture, floors, and skirting boards.
- To prevent flea eggs and larvae from growing, throw away the dust bag from your vacuum after each use.
- If your home is centrally heated, you may need to treat your pet and home for fleas all year.
Give your pet only the flea treatment that has been suggested for them, preferably one prescribed by your veterinarian. Products that are appropriate for one species may not be appropriate for another. Permethrin, an insecticide that is harmless for dogs but highly harmful to cats, is used in some dog flea treatments.