Fleas are the most common external parasites of dogs and cats. Dog fleas are nasty and greedy bloodsuckers that are able to deprive your pet of sleep and even seriously harm its health. Flea bites hurt and itch. Besides, saliva of these parasites is a habitat of pathogens of various diseases. If you have a dog, you must know how to check your dog for fleas to be able to notice flea intrusion on time. Since these insects are very small, you should know how to detect signs of fleas on dogs, if the insects hide from you in your pet’s fur.
An Ordinary Flea
Can you see fleas on a dog? Fleas have everything to feel free at their host’s fur: flat body that makes their movement between the host’s hairs easy, prehensile legs to hold between hairs, sharp piercing-sucking mouthparts, inconspicuous coloring for camouflage. Besides, fleas are independent from the main source of food. Many fleas in dogs are actually cat’s, rat’s or human’s parasites.
Of course, cat’s fleas feel more comfortable on a cat, but they can live on a dog or even suck human blood. Thus, the species specificity of these insects is rather conventional: dog fleas can be transmitted to humans, and a human can infect a dog or a cat with fleas. Fortunately, it does not matter which kind of fleas you face, as you can kill them in the same way and all of them cause similar symptoms of fleas on dogs.
Fleas rarely exceed 0.5 cm in size. They are reddish, brown or almost black. If you keep finding semi-transparent gray, yellow or almost white insects in your dog, you should know that they are lice, but not fleas. Fleas are flat from sides. In addition, fleas have well developed hind limbs that enable them to jump.
Since fleas multiply in a very smart way, their population grows rapidly and continuously. Female fleas do not cling their eggs to the hairs of a dog. They scatter them everywhere while crawling in fur. It literally “shoots” eggs in different directions. The eggs fall down and get into the carpet, floor cracks or onto the furniture, etc. Some of them will survive, convert to larvae and later turn into adult insects. In this way they return to your dog, even if you thoroughly wash and comb your pet, you will soon again find fleas on a dog.
Signs Of Fleas On Dogs
Does my dog have fleas? Most people know how fleas look like and how to check a dog for fleas. However, it is not easy to see this insect or to detect signs your dog has fleas. To be more precise, it is simple to notice signs that your dog has fleas when your dog has too many fleas, but it is better to avoid such situation.
You can suspect that something is wrong by the following tips on how do you know when your dog has fleas:
- you pet has troubled sleep and constantly moves from one place to another;
- your dog suddenly jumps and freezes in one position for a few seconds;
- your dog suddenly bites into its skin, snapping with its teeth;
- your pet scratches the bitten spot with violent and fast movements.
You can detect other dog fleas symptoms by examining the skin of your pet. The bitten spot is inflamed and itchy. You even can see small dots with a drop of dried blood. They are flea punctures. Sometimes there is a reddish rash which appears on a sensitive skin.
Where do fleas live on dogs? Usually on the abdomen, inner thighs, withers, behind the ears or on face. If your pet develops an allergy to fleas, it has watery eyes and bright rash on its skin; its hair falls out and crusted ulcers and sores appear at the site of bites and scratching over time. In severe cases, a dog can have huge bald patch at the base of its tail, on its shoulders or on its croup. Without proper treatment a dog with fleas can become completely bald, and even die from secondary infections, but loving and caring breeders never let this happen.
It is better to consult a veterinarian when you realize: “my dog has fleas”. Usually it is not enough just to get rid of the parasites. It is also necessary to suppress an allergic reaction, eliminate inflammation and kill pathogenic flora (bacteria, fungi, etc.). If fleas cause severe fleas on dogs symptoms, characterized by deep skin lesions, you should immediately contact your veterinarian.
How To Check Dog For Fleas
Some people think that flea bites will not do too much harm to a pet, but let us consider the problem in general. Fleas infestation always carry the risk of infection with viral illnesses, worms, microscopic cellular parasites, bacteria, etc. Fleas provoke insomnia, which can lead to a chronic illness.
The most unpleasant about fleas is that they can attack humans, and this is dangerous not only for your pet, but also for your entire family. Jumping bloodsuckers transmit typhus, plague, pseudotuberculosis, encephalitis and some other fatal diseases.
Here are some more tips on how to check dog for fleas:
- You can stroke your pet against the grain. At least one insect will meet your eyes;
- It is easy to spot fleas on dogs with light fur. If your dog’s fur is dark, use a lamp;
- Comb your pet above a white sheet. It will be easy to see a fallen flea;
- While bathing your pet look at the sides of your bathtub. Fleas cannot swim and they jump from the hair. The most unlucky insects will drown and thus be visible on the water surface.
If you have not found any flea in your dog, there are some signs dog has fleas which will help you to confirm your suspicions. First of all, look for black crumbs that look like pepper grains. They are flea feces gathering in lumps at the base of the hairs. You can also find whitish translucent “crumbs” which are flea eggs. The more you find, the more numerous is the flea population on your dog. But remember that most eggs fall down, so it is not easy to understand how many fleas on a dog can appear in a while.