Fleas in dogs

Fleas in dogs

The Flea is a small wingless insect that lives as an external parasite on mammals and birds. Fleas needs blood to reproduce and can therefore transmit several nasty disease, in addition to causing itching, hairless and anaemia. There exists a wide range of different Flea species. When dogs are infected, the culprit is usually the Cat Flea, Ctenocephalides felis. The second most common flea in dogs is the Dog Flea, Ctenocephalides canis.

Cat Flea in dogs

As the name suggests, the cat is the primary host for the cat flea, but this flea species is also the most common cause of flea infestation in dogs. The cat flea is also capable of infesting other carnivores and the Virginia opossum. Humans, rodents, rabbits and several other animals are occasionally bitten by the Cat Flea, but only carnivores and the Virginia opossum are suitable as hosts for Cat Flea populations.

Cat Flea symptoms in dogs

If your adult dog develops a minor flea infestation it will seldom develop any serious symptoms. Dogs can however be allergic to compounds found in the saliva of cat fleas, and such a dog can develop noticeable reactions even to just a few flea bites – so called flea allergy dermatitis. 

Fleas will cause itchiness in the dog, and most dogs will retort by excessive scratching, biting etcetera. This can in turn lead to hair loss and damaged skin, and damaged skin is naturally prone to infection. If a dog becomes infested with a huge flea population, it can lead to anaemia.

Cat fleas can also transmit disease to its host, such as Bartonella, tapeworm (the species named Dipylidium caninum), and Murine typhus. Ridding your dog and its environment of fleas is therefore important in order to prevent more serious diseases.

Flea treatment for dogs

There is a long row of anti-flea treatments available today and as a dog owner you need to be vigilant since quite a few manufacturers sell ‘snake-oil’ products to unsuspecting dog owners. Be suspicious if you are offered products that have no independent scientific studies to back up the effectiveness of their active ingredients. If you have no success with over the counter remedies, contact your veterinarian for a more efficient treatment. You should also contact your veterinarian in case of serious or reoccurring flea infestations. 

Flea treatments for dogs can be administered orally or topically. In the combat against flees, dog owners can also use preventative collars, shampoos, sprays and drops.

Simply killing the fleas living on your dog will not resolve the flea problem. If you have a dog with fleas, your home is most likely filled with fleas that will survive long enough outside the dog to re-infect it over and over again. Stringent and repetitive cleaning with a detergent capable of killing fleas is necessary to get rid of all the fleas, and special attention must be paid to carpets and upholstery. After vacuum cleaning, the bag must be properly sealed and disposed of. Do not hesitate to contact a professional exterminator if you have a flea problem.

Parasites in dogs: (click for more info)
Cheyletiellosis in dogs
Chiggers in dogs
Ear Mites in dogs
Fleas in dogs
Heartworm disease in dogs
Hookworms in dogs
Mange in dogs
Roundworm in dogs
Tapeworms in dogs
Ticks in dogs
Trichinosis in dogs