Fleas are never any fun for you or your furry friend. Irritating itching and constant scratching can leave you annoyed and your dog in misery. Even worse, fleas can take shelter in your home after your pooch has brought them in, leading to repeat infestations. But how do we know if their scratching is caused by fleas and not by another condition? This article aims to answer all of your questions regarding flea bites and how to treat them.
What Do Flea Bites Look Like?
Typically, flea bites look like tiny red bumps in a small cluster or even a line. These bites may occur on cats, dogs, and even humans. If you notice bites similar in nature on your skin, you likely have fleas in your home and on your pets.
An immediate tell on if your dog has fleas is excessive licking or scratching. If you notice your pup scratching more than usual, you should check for additional signs. These symptoms of flea bites include reddened and inflamed skin, scabs, and hair loss, around the area they’re scratching, as well as small black particles, and white dots in the fur. These substances are flea dirt and flea eggs, respectively.
You may even notice the itchy fleas themselves crawling in your dog’s coat upon closer inspection. If you cannot immediately identify a location of the infection, try looking for bites on your dog’s ears, legs, groin, and the pits of their legs. These are some of the most common places for your dog to experience flea bites. Fleas can reach the areas of your dog’s skin with less fur easier, which is why these areas are often the targets.
How to Treat Flea Bites On Dogs
Bites go away on their own. Itching, pain, and irritation may be minimized with topical anti-itch creams and ointments. However, bites will continue to occur as long as the fleas themselves are still infecting your dog.
A quick visit to your vet can rid your dog of these itchy fleas very quickly. Furthermore, your vet can assess your dog’s skin and ensure that what they’re experiencing is, in fact, a dog flea problem and prescribe a flea treatment. Sometimes, your vet can even prescribe an antihistamine ointment to help relieve your dog’s itching.
Studies have shown that various ointments are very good at treating fleas, so this might be an important topic to speak to your vet about.
However, there are some home remedies some pet owners swear by. Conventional home treatments for relieving the irritation and itching of bites include Aloe Vera, tea tree oils, and used tea bags. These treatments are applied directly to the skin at the location of itching.
Depending on the severity of the infestation and your dog’s sensitivity to flea bites, bites can last anywhere between a few hours to several days. Particularly sensitive individuals may experience bites lasting up to two weeks.
Can Dogs be Allergic to Flea Bites?
Yes. Dogs (and people) who are allergic to flea saliva experience intense itching, severe and painful inflammation, and reddened skin at the location of bites. This is called flea allergy dermatitis. If you or your dog display these kinds of symptoms, it may be a good idea to consult a veterinarian or other medical professional for treatment.
Dogs will often scratch their infected area insistently if they have an allergic reaction, which often results in skin infections. It is important to see your vet right away.
How Long Can I Wait to Treat Fleas?
You should begin treatment for a flea infestation as soon as possible to prevent the infestation from becoming too severe. Not only do bites itch and hurt, but they can also lead to secondary infections. However, this is somewhat rare. It is important to note that the risk of secondary infections increases as the severity of an infestation increases, so it is imperative to begin treatment as soon as possible.
Preventing Flea Bites on Dogs
The best way to avoid flea bites is to ensure your dog is never infested with fleas in the first place. The most effective method to prevent flea infestations is to periodically give your dog a flea bath with flea shampoo before an outbreak occurs. Additionally, if your pooch spends much of their time outside, having the area where they spend their outdoor time treated for fleas is highly recommended.
If your dog already has fleas, the only method of prevention is to kill the fleas themselves. You can tackle this yourself or call a pest control specialist. If you choose to do it yourself, destroying a flea outbreak is a multi-step process that takes time and preparation due to the flea’s life cycle. To start, you must kill the fleas at the source, which is where your pet got fleas to begin with. You will then have to treat every pet in the household for fleas. This includes using a flea comb and giving them flea control baths.
You will also need to manage their living space, bedding, and inside your home as well. This step will involve vacuuming your carpeted floors with a very powerful vacuum and potentially a carpet cleaner for severe infestations, which will kill fleas. It is always a good idea to treat your carpet with insecticides shortly after vacuuming to help control the outbreak. You will need to repeat these steps as necessary until the infestation has been destroyed.
Another method of preventing fleas is to administer medications to your dog. Many of these medications come in the form of a chewable that is readily edible for your canine. Others come as a tube of topical ointment that can be applied to their skin and fur. The duration of time that these medications remain active varies from product to product, so it is essential to read the instructions on dosages for your pup.
Even still, many medications only target adult fleas, not larvae, and eggs. To maximize treatment and prevention for your dog, combine a flea bath, flea collars, and anti-flea medication.
As you can see, a flea infestation is no joke. As a dog owner, it’s important to go above and beyond with the essential care such as hygiene, exercise, and great food for your dog so they can be healthy and happy. Although tiny, fleas can make life miserable for both you and your dog, and getting rid of them is a daunting task to undertake, requiring persistence and constant effort. Furthermore, fleas can come back again and again. No treatment lasts forever.
If you would like to save yourself the headache of dealing with fleas, you should give your dog a flea bath once in a while, and even treat your yard to reduce the risk of infection. Keep your dog safe!