Let me tell you about Cody, a terrier buddy of ours. Cody’s mom noticed he was itching and biting at his tail and back legs. Poor Cody, he was miserable! She started investigating a little closer, expecting to find a dead tick (Cody goes hiking a lot and gets ticks quite often). Instead, she found black stuff all over his back legs and tail. She ended up doing a little research and discovered it was flea poop! She had to figure out how to protect from those fleas.
How in the world did Cody get fleas? His mom is really good about keeping Flea and Tick treatment on him. Well, the month before, Cody’s mom had bought a different flea and tick treatment (apparently, it was on sale and his Mom is always trying to save a little money). After calling the vet, his mom learned that not all flea and tick treatments are the same.
A little bit of information about fleas…fleas are tiny insects that have six legs, no wings, and can leap tall dogs in a single bound. There are nearly 2,000 species of fleas, but typically it’s the Ctenocephalides felis (the cat flea) that gives dogs the most grief. Fleas can be more than just irritating. Besides the usual itching and scratching, some dogs are extra-sensitive to flea saliva. One bite from a flea may be enough to bring on the unbearable itching of flea-allergy dermatitis. Fleas can cause more problems than itchy skin…they are carriers for intestinal parasites, like tapeworms.
Fortunately, for Cody, it was an easy fix. He had to take a bath with some flea shampoo (which he HATES!). It was stinky, but it helped with the itching. Then, his mom had to buy more flea and tick treatment from the vet to put on him. His Mom also had to vacuum a lot to get rid of the dead fleas. Within a week or two, Cody’s skin was better and the fleas were all gone.
How can you protect your pet from those pesky fleas? There are over-the -counter products to treat your dog, but (as Cody’s mom learned), they are not as effective as prescription products from your vet. The prescription product may be more expensive, but they’re safer and work faster. They generally work to repel and kill adult fleas as well as the flea eggs. Most of these include tick treatment, too.
No matter what product you decide to use, make sure to follow the directions exactly. Flea-control products are technically poison and can harm your dog if not used properly. If your dog begins to drool heavily or shake after applying a flea control product, get him to the vet immediately. Also, be aware that there are different products to control fleas for dogs and cats, so make sure to use the right type for your pet.
Another option is to check with your local pest control company. If you have an infestation in the yard it can be a tough battle to get them under control in the house.
If you have any questions about fleas and treatment, or are wondering if your pet might have fleas, contact your veterinarian!
Janie founded 4-Legged Kids, Inc in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1997 and provides education through her PetBizHIVE podcast and her PetBizMBA membership and courses. She is a Certified Professional Animal Care Operator, Fear Free certified and a Certified Professional Pet Sitter. Learn more about the Founder, Janie Budnick.