A big ugly flea

Apparently there may have been a flea on Clio today so we spring into motion. Fleas can cause all sorts of problems. They can infest a dog pretty quickly and in a multi-animal home it can quickly get out of control. Here are the flea rules we follow:

1. Many flea products will have you believe that you should treat prophylacticly. Basically they want you to put chemicals on your animals without even knowing if they have fleas. We do not like to expose our animals to chemicals unless necessary.

Typical flea comb with a double row of teeth

2. Check for fleas the old skool way –  a flea comb. A flea comb is a comb with very small teeth. As you draw it through your dog’s (or cat’s) fur you are looking for a couple of things. First of all you want to see if there are live or dead fleas. These are pretty easy to see. If your pet is infested you will see live fleas, dead fleas and flea dirt. The first two are obvious, flea dirt is generally black bit of flea feces and dried blood. Generally, unless we see fleas themselves we don’t treat. If we see what we think is flea dirt then we will re-check for a couple of days.

3. When you comb to check for fleas it is really important to check areas of moisture on your animal. The main areas of moisture are around the eyes and close to the anus. The belly will also give up fleas pretty quickly too.

4. If you find fleas it is important to treat. Fleas can deplete the animal of blood and some dogs are allergic and can develop secondary problems. The Chunk, who is no longer with us, was allergic to fleas. Whenever we suspected fleas we checked her first. We have always had the best success using Advantage for fleas. It works by permeating the skin and killing all fleas within 2 hours. Once the eggs hatch they are also killed quickly. Any fleas that jump on the animal will also die. This means that even if you get the fleas in your carpet they will quickly die without access to a host where they can live.

Healthy dogs can usually come into contact with fleas and not become infested. In particular, raw-fed dogs rarely get fleas. When we moved into our house it was infested with fleas from the cat they abandoned. Once we got the cat into rescue and treated our crew for 3 months there were no more fleas. We have not treated anyone for fleas since January of 2007.

Fleas can certainly infest any dog. Luckily we now have insecticides that can kill the fleas without harming the pet. I do believe that over-treating for fleas is not in the pet’s best interest. We really don’t know what over-use of these chemicals may do to our animals. If you have any questions or concerns about fleas talk to your vet.


3 thoughts on “Are there fleas on thee?

    1. My suspicion is that it is overall health that allows an animal to repel fleas. Animals eating a high-quality kibble/canned will also be healthy. Perhaps dogs who eat lots of grains may be be too busy dealing with inappropriate food to fight off the fleas. Just my thoughts.

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