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The good, the bad and the ugly on
how to stop fleas

Flea Infestation

Pet owners should always be on alert for the warning signs of a flea infestation, and even more so during the warm weather months of spring and summer.

If your dog is constantly scratching and on closer examination you find dark brown creepy crawlies moving in its hair, then it is fair to say it has been invaded by fleas.

Apart from scratching and an obvious presence of fleas, if your pet has areas of hair loss and/or inflammation/infection of its skin and ears, your dog may have developed an allergic reaction to fleas, which will require immediate treatment from your vet.

The subject of allergies to fleas is covered in more detail below, for Flea allergy dermatitis and here for Hives.

However, if your dog does not have an allergy and it is a simple matter of flea infestation, then this is something you can treat effectively yourself, as long as you take a logical and systematic approach. Time is of the essence here, because one pregnant flea and its off spring can produce up to 2 million fleas in a period of 2 to 3 months.

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Flea eggs, larvae, pupa (cocoons) and adult fleas

First off you need to be aware of the flea life cycle and that if your dog has fleas, it will also be a carrier of flea eggs, larvae and cocoons. And this of course follows through to every four legged member of your family along with everything inside and outside of your home.

Flea Life Cycle

Therefore everyone and everything will need to be treated in tandem.

Another point worthy of mention is that only 5% of the total flea population present in your home and surrounds will be found on your pets.

The remainder will be spread out inside your home in furniture, curtains and drapes, carpets, beds and outside in lawns, garden furniture, garden sheds, sand pits, gardens and yards.

Getting rid of fleas from inside and outside your home is covered elsewhere in this website. This segment deals entirely with fleas on your dog and allergies associated with the presence of fleas, along with other allergens your dog may come in contact with.

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Getting rid of fleas on your dog

Step 1

First off decide on a safe, natural and effective choice of flea repellant, and combine this with an on-going flea treatment plan. You need to be comfortable with your choice of repellant so do a bit of research on this site and settle for natural products that wont harm your pet, kids or plants.

Step 2

There is nothing like a warm bath and a massage from Mum or Dad to sooth a distressed pooch. In order to drown adult fleas and larvae, and to crack open cocoons and eggs, it's important to lather up with an insect repellant shampoo and leave the suds on for at least 5 minutes. Take advantage of this special time to stroke and massage and bond with your pet. After bathing, finish off with a flea repellant spray.

Step 3

It goes without saying that after a nice refreshing bath your dog needs a clean "flea free" bed to curl up and relax in, be that its own bed or yours, which ever it is used to. All bedding needs to be washed in detergent and very hot water, and dried with your clothes dryer set on its hottest temperature setting.

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Flea allergy dermatitis

Flea allergy dermatitis is the most common form of seasonal itching in pets. It is also one of the most common reasons that people take their pets to the vet.

A dog that has flea allergy dermatitis is one that is extremely sensitive to flea bites. In fact, most dogs which suffer from dermatitis will develop signs immediately they are bitten, even if they are only bitten once or twice.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis

The culprit which causes this reaction is a certain type of allergen present in flea saliva.

In its literal sense, the word "derm" means "skin" and "itis" means "inflammation".

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Typical symptoms of flea allergy dermatitis are:

  • Constant itching and scratching.
  • Its skin will be burning hot to touch.
  • Smelly skin, due to yeast and bacterial infections which thrive in this unhealthy environment.
  • In severe cases, infection progresses to pustules and the development of crusts.

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Dog breeds with a genetic pre-disposition to flea allergy dermatitis

Whilst all dogs are at risk of developing flea allergy dermatitis, some breeds have a genetic pre-disposition toward developing allergies. The breeds that are most likely to develop flea allergy dermatitis are:

The best way to help a dog with flea allergy dermatitis is to prevent fleas from entering its environment and to keep its flea protection programme up to date.

Click here to learn how to treat dogs with flea allergy dermatitis and to relieve their agony.

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Parents are concerned about the dangers to children from pets wearing chemical flea and tick collars and spot-on applications

The video below is well worth watching. Daniel Hinderfeld from Santa Monica California reports on the dangers of toxins in flea and tick collars and topical applications to pets and kids. Some of his guests questions whether companies and retail outlets are breaking the law by selling products known to make pets serious ill and in some cases cause death.

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