The dog is arguably the oldest and most popular domesticated animal in the history of man. Nearly 40 percent of U.S. households currently own a dog. Because they are more difficult and costly to care for than cats, most owners only have one, which is why there are more felines than canines in the States. The most common health problems dogs encounter are caused by fleas and ticks.
Most pet lovers do battle with these pesky parasites at one time or another. The irritation they cause ranges from mild to life threatening. Yes, a serious infestation can cause more than simple scratching. If the problem is not addressed, your pet could succumb to anemia or tapeworms. Let us take a moment to discuss what you should know about canine fleas.
To begin with, flea bites almost always cause irritation of the skin. That’s why your animal scratches himself incessantly! But if he scratches or bites himself too much, the affected area may become infected, which could have serious consequences for his health.
Unlike intestinal parasites, dogs are not born with fleas. They can only get them if they come into direct contact with the insect. More often than not, they encounter them in warm, outdoor environments. The reason fleas cause a fuss is because they pullulate at the speed of light. A single adult female can lay up to 500 eggs at a time! They can also go up to two years without feeding! So when they find a food source, they gorge themselves. And they breed!
According to etymologists, only about 5 percent of the fleas on the average dogs are adults. The rest are growing insects, which means they must feed. These parasites can transmit a whole host of diseases, including tapeworms and Lyme disease.
All dogs scratch. But constant itching and/or biting may mean that your pet is infested with fleas. This goes double if he scratches at his head, tail, or neck, which are common flea camping grounds. If the irritation is extreme and there are visible red patches on his belly or other exposed areas, it may mean that your dog is allergic to flea saliva. This condition is known as allergy dermatitis. In extreme cases, dogs will literally scratch themselves bloody or bald. In other words, their fur will come loose and bald spots in their coats will be visible. Sores and cuts may also lead to serious infections that may require immediate medical attention.
If your canine friend is scratching himself more than usual, it is easy enough to examine him on your own. Simply take a comb and run it through your pet’s fur or hair. If you find little black specks, also known as flea dirt, it means your dog is infested. To be absolutely certain, comb back his fur to expose the skin and you may see fleas feeding or scurrying about.
If your pouch is absolutely infested with fleas, a flea bath is an effective first step that will remove a large number of parasites in one fell swoop. These topical solutions are not a permanent form of flea control. The chemicals they use are quite mild and will only work to kill fleas and other insects for a day or two. After that, you must either give your pet another bath or find a more permanent solution.
Suggested medication: ADAMS™ FLEA & TICK SHAMPOO
An insecticide, repellent, and deodorant rolled into one, ADAMS makes the most popular topical flea and tick treatments on the market today. The ingredients in their shampoos are mild enough for regular cleaning and will even help restore the natural luster of your pouch’s coat!
The standard flea collar works in one of two ways—by emitting a gas that is toxic to fleas or by discharging chemicals that are absorbed into the animal’s skin. Then when the flea goes to feed, the chemicals, which are only toxic to fleas and not to your pet, strike him down.
Suggested medication: PowerBand Flea and Tick Collar for Dogs
Inexpensive and wildly effective, the flea and tick collar from PowerBand kills fleas of all stages of life for up to 5 months. That includes fleas that haven’t even been born and are still in their eggs. This adjustable collar is comfortable and is designed to fit dogs of all sizes.
Some dogs can’t stand baths and like to chew on their collars. For these temperamental pets there are oral medications that can be hidden in food whenever needed. Much like shampoos, these tablets do not prevent new infestations, but they will eradicate existing ones in a trice.
Suggested medication: Capstar Tablets for Dogs
A popular oral tablet to treat flea infestations in pets, Capstar starts working just 30 minutes after the tablet is ingested. According to the label it can be taken as often as need, but you should consult your veterinarian for exact dosage and schedule