It may be winter, but that doesn’t mean that dog parents can relax and not worry about fleas. They are the most common external parasites to plague pets across the US and, in certain parts of the country, are a year-round problem.
Left untreated, fleas can pose a serious health risk to your dog. Non-stop scratching can lead to flea allergy dermatitis causing hair to fall out. A dog need only be bitten once to develop such an allergic reaction. Further, these parasites can also lead to tapeworms, which, in turn, can cause diarrhea and weight loss. And, because fleas only spend 20% of their time on your pet before jumping off on to carpets and furniture, everyone in the household can be affected by an infestation.
Fleas thrive in warm, humid conditions. According to the 2016 State of Pet Health Survey published annually by Banfield Pet Hospitals, the states that experience a severe year-round problem are Florida South Carolina, Alabama and Louisiana. While Texas,Washington and Oregon are also listed as high-risk areas. (See Map).
But you can live in colder parts of the country and still experience a winter flea problem because once the eggs are inside your home, and, you turn up the thermostat and switch on a humidifier to prevent dry static air, you could be creating the right conditions for those eggs to hatch.
Apart from obvious signs of your dog constantly scratching, black poppy seed-like excrement in your dog’s coat is a telltale sign of fleas. It’s a good idea to run a special flea comb through the fur to make sure.
The best way to see if they have infested your home is to put on a pair of white pants and white socks and walk around. And, if little dark “spots” jump on and off your legs, your suspicions will have been confirmed!
Treating Your Dog Against Fleas
“Year-round prevention is key,” says Banfield Pet Hospital veterinarian Ari Zabell, DVM, DABVP “We recommend twice-yearly comprehensive exams that include parasite screenings to look for fleas and any other visible external parasite or skin problem.”
It’s important to ensure that your dog is treated with a product that kills flea eggs as well as adult fleas. If you are using an over-the-counter medication, read labels carefully to ensure the product is suitable for both the weight and age of your dog. Certain products are not suitable for very young puppies. Similarly, never use a flea medication prescribed for cats on a dog and vice versa.
What To Do Around The Home
At the first sign of fleas, wash your dog’s bedding along with any doggie jackets and t-shirts in a hot wash. Do the same with all your bedding if your dog sleeps with you.
Use special crevice tools to vacuum furniture and drapes and also thoroughly vacuum all floor areas.
The latest self-cleaning vacuums that can be “trained” to move constantly around your home such as the bObi Pet robotic vacuum not only vacuum, but mop and sanitize and have special HEPA filters to help keep a home flea-free. There are also standard vacuum cleaners with UV lights that will kill flea eggs.
Serious infestations of the home may require vacating for the interior to be professionally sprayed. And, it’s equally important to spray your outdoor areas and lawn to prevent your dog (and you) from bringing them indoors. A nicotine-based natural insecticide such as Imidacloprid is suggested for dogs that like to chew on grass. If your dog is a regular passenger in your car, you may have to have your vehicle specially detailed too.
And, if you enjoy spending lots of time outdoors together hiking or simply going for long walks, consider insect repellent clothing for your pooch – and yourself. Insect shield gear is designed to repel fleas and other bugs and parasites too.
This post was sponsored by the Rover.com. However, all opinions are my own. I only write about topics, events and products that I consider readers will consider useful information and relevant to their interests.