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The flea is a hardy insect with a lifespan of six to 12 months. During that time, a pair of fleas could produce millions of offspring. Fleas have survived millions of years in a variety of environments.
Fleas can cause reactions in your dog varying from a mild skin irritation to a severe allergic reaction. Because fleas feed on blood, an extreme infestation can cause anaemia or even death in some cases. All dogs, cats and other mammals are susceptible to flea infestations.
Does My Dog have fleas? Whether or not you actually see fleas on your pet, they may be there. Scratching, scabs and dark specs, or “flea dirt,” found on the skin can all be signs that your dog has become the unwitting host for a family of fleas. Fleas can carry tapeworms, too. If you notice small white rice-like things in your dogs faeces or in the hair around his anus, your dog probably has tapeworms, which means he may also have fleas. In extreme cases, a dog may be lethargic and its lips and gums pale.
The Flea Check
First sit your dog on a large piece of white paper. Then rub its back vigorously for a minute or so. As you rub, any flea faeces will fall onto the paper. Next pick up the piece of paper, remove any hair, and transfer the
‘rubbings’ onto some damp cotton wool. Leave to stand for a minute. Flea faeces: In the fur they appear as dark red / black commas shaped particles 0.5 to 1mm in size On wet cotton wool they dissolve forming a rust coloured halo (flea faeces is dried blood). So, if you can now see red rust spots on the cotton wool, you can be certain that your pet has been in recent contact with fleas. Treatment is required.
The Life Cycle of a Flea is three to four weeks, it will take at least that long to completely rid your dog and its environment of the enemy. Different flea control products work in different ways, have varying levels of effectiveness and kill different flea stages (eggs, larvae and/or adults). You’ll need to use a combination of products at the same time to be effective.
Dips, spot-ons, shampoos, powders and sprays will usually kill the adult fleas on your dogs. Using a flea comb regularly will help, too. But more adult fleas may be lurking in your home or yard, and eggs or larvae may be lying in wait, as well. You’ll need to rid your house of fleas by vacuuming and washing your dogs bedding once a week, and using a disinfectant on washable surfaces and an insecticide or insect growth regulator in cracks and crevices (sometimes foggers are recommended) every two to four weeks. When using chemical products to control fleas, be very careful. You may be providing too much of a potentially toxic chemical if you use, say, a flea dip and a fogger with the same chemical ingredient. Always check with your veterinarian before beginning your war on fleas.