Itchy and Scratchy: Flea Prevention for Dogs
Most dog owners will encounter the dreaded flea sooner or later. Frequent scratching is usually the first signal that your furry baby has acquired some uninvited guests. These common parasites are not only annoying, they can trigger allergic reactions (such as flea dermatitis), transmit diseases, and cause anemia.
When regular bathing and grooming won’t keep the pesky critters at bay, what do you do?
Talk to your veterinarian. Together, you and your vet should decide the best flea control routine for you and your pooch. The most common treatments are:
- Topical: Also called “spot-on,” these treatments typically last for 30 days and not only prevent fleas but repel them.
- Tablet: Administered orally, some tablets are designed to treat flea infestations immediately, while others are a great preventive measure.
- Flea shampoos: These cleaning agents can kill fleas during regular baths and provide relief for itchy skin.
Whether you choose topical, tablet, shampoo, or a combination, it is important that you choose a plan that you can stick with. Also, some of the most effective flea control products require a prescription, particularly those combined with heartworm preventive. These work well for pet parents who prefer a once monthly, all-in-one approach.
Treat all your pets. Even if they don’t like to share toys, they will inevitably share fleas. If you have more than one animal, they all needed to be treated regularly to prevent their tiny foes from taking up residency.
Treat your house. As soon as fleas find a cozy home on your furry friend’s skin, they start building a family. One female can produce as many as 2,000 eggs during her lifespan. Those eggs fall off and hatch in the carpet, on the couch, in the yard, and in Fido’s bed. All of the newly hatched fleas will seek a host of their own. To get rid of the fleas, you must get rid of all the eggs and larvae.
Vacuum all carpets, rugs, and sofas often. Fleas like to hang out under cushions and in crevices, so be sure to hit those areas. Wash pet bedding and plush toys in hot water. Foggers and sprays are an effective way to combat fleas, but be sure to use only safe, non-toxic insecticidal sprays made for indoor use.
If your home has a significant flea infestation, consider contacting a professional to help you find a plan to treat the immediate problem quickly and devise a plan to prevent future outbreaks.
Treat your yard. Fleas love the warmth and humidity of the summer soil. They can often be found in woodpiles and tall grass. Removing debris and keeping your yard cut can help ward off the pesky invaders. If you continue to see fleas in the soil, you can also spread diatomaceous earth over the affected areas of your lawn. Here are some tips to safely apply this natural and non-toxic solution.