Dog Fleas, What They Are and How to Get Rid of Them

All dog owners are familiar with the problems caused by dog fleas, but how do you get rid of them. Fleas are very tiny wingless insects, brownish red in color, and possess sharp mouths by which they obtain blood from their canine hosts. Dog flea bites generally cause your dog to scratch at affected areas and some dogs are more susceptible than others and can have allergic reactions to dog flea bites.

In general, fleas do not transmit diseases from dogs to humans, but the potential for this exists and they can and do bite humans as well as dogs and cats. Fleas and dog flea larvae exist in warm climates and will live until the ground freezes in cooler climates. They can live on in your home well past this time also.

If you believe that your dog has fleas, you should take him to your veterinarian. Your veterinary staff member will initially use a dog flea comb on your dog. Flea combs are wide tooth combs and flea dirt or dried blood flea excrement is what they are looking for. If this is found, your veterinarian will suggest treatment. Most veterinarians recommend preventive treatment for dog fleas as it is much easier to avoid them than to treat them.

For those of you that want to treat your dog fleas without commercial products, there are a few recommendations. One way is to comb your dog with a flea comb regularly. You can put some petroleum jelly on the comb to help fleas stick to the comb. Other people recommend using rubbing alcohol to slow down the fleas so they are easier to catch.

Garlic and Brewers Yeast added as supplements to your dog's foodstuffs are recommended by those who choose the natural approach to treating dog fleas, however, the benefits of these treatments have yet to be proven.

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Dog Flea Treatments

There are several over the counter flea treatments obtainable at your local pet store. However, many of these contain pyrethrins, which are natural insecticides derived from the chrysanthemum plant. In the past, this kind of treatment of dog fleas was the only one available to veterinarians.

If you choose to use a product containing pyrethrins, you should be informed of the potential side effects. There is a potential threat of toxicity when using a product containing pyrethrins, not just to your dog, but to other animals in the home and humans as well. Make sure you follow the label usage directions and if you have any questions about using these products, consult your veterinarian.

Today, there are much safer products available. Most of these products are only available by means of your veterinarian. One of the most popular treatments for dog fleas is Frontline Plus by Merial.

It is topically applied to the skin of your dog on the back of the neck. According to Merial, Frontline Plus kills 98-100% of adult fleas within 24 hour and will also put an end to eggs and larvae to prevent fleas from recurring. Frontline Plus is waterproof for up to 30 days and is safe to use on puppies as young as 8 weeks of age.

Another popular flea treatment is Sentinel by Novartis. Sentinel is a monthly pill that also prevents heartworms. Sentinel kills mature dog fleas, eggs, and larvae. Novartis also makes the flea control products Program and Capstar. Program is a flavored tablet that is given monthly, and while it does not kill adult fleas, it does interfere in the flea life cycle by preventing the development of flea eggs.

This program is safe to use in dogs and puppies four weeks of age and older. Capstar is a pill that is given to kill adult fleas. It can be given as regularly as once per day. According to Novartis, Capstar will begin killing adult dog fleas within 30 minutes. One pill should kill all adult fleas. Capstar is safe for dogs and puppies four weeks of age and older.

Remember that it is much easier to prevent dog fleas than to treat them once your dog has them. As with all medications, follow the advice of your veterinarian. If you need more facts about dog fleas and flea prevention, contact a member of your veterinary staff or pet professional.

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