Flea Control

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Fleas can potentially pose a very real threat to your dog's health and the well being of your family. Few creatures can inflict more misery, ounce for ounce, than fleas. A flea infestation at one time or another has affected many dog and cat households. These tiny, almost invisible pests are much more than an annoyance. They make life miserable by disrupting your household with a vicious cycle of biting and scratching, and can cause flea allergy dermatitis in some dogs.

Where do fleas hide?

Fleas hop onto your dog to feed on his/her blood; they then lay their eggs, which can be up to 50 a day. The eggs are not very sticky, so they quickly fall off your pet. The fleas and their eggs can be found in a number of flea friendly locations, such as:

  • Carpets
  • Furniture
  • The Car
  • The animals' own bedding
  • Vacuum cleaners

These areas should be treated, when treating your dog for fleas.

The fleas life cycle

The life cycle of a common flea can last as little as three weeks, depending on the temperature and humidity of their surroundings. It is little wonder that with the introduction of fitted carpets and central heating to a lot of homes, the flea problem has increased over the years. However, it is important to note that fleas can also live in wooden floor boards so always be alert for the presence of fleas, even if you don't have carpet flooring.

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For more information, please contact the Veterinary Surgery for advice.

The Egg Stage

A female flea lays as many as 50 eggs per day, they quickly fall off your dog and hatch in two to five days. A female flea lays around 2,000 eggs in his lifetime.

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The Laval Stage

After hatching, the larvae head toward dark places around your home and feed on "flea dirt" - Excrement of the partially digested blood of your dog. The larvae grow; moult twice, the spin cocoons, where they grow into pupae.

The Pupa Stage

The length of this stage averages 8 to 9 days. Depending on weather conditions, population explosions typically occur five to six weeks after the weather starts to warm up.

The Adult Stage

The adults emerge from their cocoons when they detect heat, vibrations and exhaled carbon dioxide indicating that there is a host nearby. Once they hop onto a host, the adults mate and begin the life cycle all over again. The entire life cycle can be as short as three to four weeks.

Identifying flea infestation

The warning signs:

Black specks

Black specks on your dog or his/her bedding could be flea dirt. Which are the faeces of partially digested blood from you dog, excreted by the adult fleas. They can often be found around the neck area and the base of the dogs tail.

There are two easy ways to check for flea dirt:

Using a metal flea comb, available from the Veterinary Practice. Run the comb over your pet, making sure the comb reaches the dogs skin through the coat. If there are black specks on the comb they may be flea dirt.

Place a white paper towel beneath your dog and rub your hands across the fur. If black specks appear on the towel, they may be flea dirt.

With both of these methods, to confirm if the speaks are flea dirt. Place the specks on a white piece of paper, sprinkle a few drops of water on the specks and if after a couple of minutes a reddish, brown stain is seen in the water. It will indicate that the dirt contains, partially digested blood from your dog. This is flea dirt.

Agitation/Scratching

Your dog may exhibit nervous or annoyed behaviour coupled with excessive scratching and or grooming, your dog may even start to bite himself, which not only confirms the presence of fleas, but also may indicate that the presence of fleas may be affecting your dogs health. (See ailments below)

Ailments

Fleas may affect your dog in the following ways:

Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD)

When a flea bites your dog, it deposits a small amount of saliva into the skin. Your dog can develop FAD in reaction to this saliva, which causes severe itching. The condition can cause excessive, scratching, biting, redness, soreness and even hair loss and scabby regions especially over the dogs, neck, back, and the base of the tail. You and your family may also suffer from flea bites.

Anaemia

This may occur in young, older or ill dogs if too many fleas suck their blood. The symptoms of anaemia include pale gums, weakness and lethargy in your pet.

Treatment and prevention

There are many flea treatments sold today, but not all of them can be effective or appropriate for your dog, and although it may appear to be cheaper, you may end up spending more in the long run. Today however, products sold by Veterinary Practices to treat flea infestation are extremely effective and safe, (if the manufacturers instructions are followed). There are a number of presentations available including: Sprays, spot-on's or oral treatments.

Consulting our Veterinary Practice with regard to the best treatment for your dog.

Only 5% of the flea population will be on your dog, so separate environmental treatment of wherever your dog has been is also vital in preventing re-infestation.

Other preventative methods, include:

Vacuuming frequently, wherever your dog has been, especially around any carpeted area of the home, in your car and in around your dogs bedding and your bedding, if he sleeps with you. This will help to clean up as many immature fleas (eggs, larvae and pupae) as possible. Also treating your vacuum cleaner's nozzle, dispose frequently of the bag or treat inside the cleaner with environmental treatments.

Washing your dogs bedding, blanket and other washable items frequently in the hottest water cycle available.

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