Fleas on your dog – don’t provide a winter welcome to your happy home

Winter is here but a cosy centrally-heated home can also be haven to unwelcome visitors – so check your pooch. Here are some simple pointers to keep your…
Shaggy dog - fleas on your dog
Fleas on your dog: don’t believe the myth that only dirty dogs can catch fleas.

It is a myth that fleas die in winter. In fact, for fleas on your dog, a warm cosy home is ideal for them throughout the colder months.

Fleas can cause real problems to a dog especially one that is allergic to the flea’s saliva. Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD) can be extremely distressing for a pet – and for owners – as your companion can suffer from irritating skin rashes and significant fur loss.

A weekly bath with a medicated shampoo and possibly oral antibiotics or antifungals as deemed necessary by your vet should clear the problem within a few weeks. The unsightly scales/scabs are sometimes connected to the flea and often clear up once the parasite has been eradicated. As these parasite are so agile, the risk of secondary infection is always present from either the bite itself or the scratching by the dog at the site of irritation.

flea on a human finger - fleas on your dog
Fleas on your dog: While you may not be the first stop, fleas will happily feed on you too.

Another myth is that only dirty dogs catch fleas. This simply is not the case. Even a dog which is regularly bathed and groomed can pick up a flea from its surroundings and socialising with other dogs on walks. The flea itself is very small and quick to move so is very difficult to detect in the dogs coat. Usually a dark brown colour it is approximately the size of a pin head, its speed and power come from its very strong back legs.

The flea lays in wait in the environment and once the vibrations of the host are detected it leaps onto it. Like the tick, the flea tends to inhabit the warm areas with blood vessels close to the skin, loins, base of the ears and the base of the tail.

spotting the signs - fleas on your dog
Fleas on your dog: Spot the signs of infestation.

Spotting the signs of fleas on your dog

The most common symptom of fleas is of course scratching and gnawing at the affected areas, although some dogs do appear to be oblivious to the presence of the parasites. As previously stated hair loss may occur due to the scratching and scaly, scabby coats may be seen. Given a choice, a dog flea will rather bite a dog than bite a human however, they are not picky and if eggs start hatching in your home you can expect these little parasites to pay you a visit.

The best way to detect the presence of fleas is to inspect your dog regularly, looking for small specks of flea dirt which are similar in appearance to a tea leaf. Flea dirt ( blood that has passed through the flea ) will dissolve in water with a reddish brown tinge. Dark specks in the coat that do not dissolve are not flea dirt.

Happy dog - fleas on your dog
Fleas on your dog: Prevention is better than cure.

Treatments for fleas

Flea treatment is relatively simple with drops, sprays, powders and dips all being readily available from a veterinary surgeon or online. It is very important that if your dog does have fleas that you not only treat the dog but also the surrounds, such as his bedding, kennel, run etc. This is because the flea spends most of it’s life off the host. Again sprays and solutions are readily available for this purpose and treatment should be affected at the same time as treating the dog. Preventative measures are available, the most effective being flea drops such as Advocate and if your dog is being regularly infested then this is an obvious aid in extinguishing the problem.

Other considerations

If your dog has fleas then preventative treatment for tapeworms is also recommended. This is because the life-cycle of the tapeworm and the flea are linked. Tapeworm eggs are passed in an infected dogs faeces and may then be eaten by an immature flea. The tapeworm egg hatches inside the flea and develops and if the flea is eaten by a dog during self grooming. The tapeworm will then develop in the dogs intestine.

If you found Fleas on your dog – don’t provide a winter welcome to your happy home helpful, you’ll find more tips for dealing with pet pests on our Pets channel.

Tags: , , , , Last modified: November 15, 2022

Written by 6:28 pm Pets