Goodbye Fleas: How to Stop the Scratch & Cure Your Canine

If you see your pup itching, scratching, and twisting around as if trying to do a wonky version of the Macarena, then he or she may have fleas. Though fleas sound like harmless pests, if left untreated, your precious pooch could develop a serious infection or disease. Here is the foolproof method to spotting fleas and forcing them to pack up their pesky bags and flee.
Telltale Symptoms
Most dogs don’t handle a flea infestation very well. Lucky for you, it doesn’t take much to know that fleas are the culprit – the way they make your dog behave is pretty obvious. Below are two of the most prevalent symptoms of dog flea allergies.

1. Itching & Scratching
In order to survive, fleas need a host to depend on. Unfortunately, they are more than happy to live off your dog’s blood. The majority of dogs are either allergic to the protein in flea saliva, or they feel irritation when a flea bites them (like a mosquito bite). Dogs can become easily agitated when they have fleas – they will probably begin scratching and itching incessantly.

2. Red Pimples & Bumps
Fleas usually target the groin, under the legs, and the area at the base of the tail – their bites will agitate the skin of your dog. If there are red bumps appearing on your pup’s sensitive areas, he probably has fleas. Depending on the level of infestation, your dog may be losing hair or scratching his skin raw in these areas. Act before your dog is in need of serious help – he could develop crusty lesions, skin infections, and flea-related diseases.

Proper Treatment
The best way to get rid of fleas is to avoid them altogether. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. If you get in the habit of checking your dog, you’ll be able to catch fleas before they treat your dog’s skin like a prime vacation spot. Here is a list of ways to check for (and eliminate) fleas.

1. Visual
Grown fleas are small, brown, and easily seen. The best way to check for them visually is to have you dog lie on his side so that his thinly haired areas are easier to see.

2. Flea Comb
You can get a flea comb from any pet supply store or veterinarian. Run this special comb along his back, underbelly, or other hairy areas (make sure the comb comes in contact with his skin). Grown flea feces (known as “flea dirt”) looks like small black specks. Make sure to have a bowl of soapy water on hand – you can drown fleas once you pull them up with the comb. If you don’t drown them, they can hop back onto your dog.

3. White Towel
Get your dog to sit or stand on a white paper towel. Brush his coat and see if any black droppings fall on the towel. If tiny grains of sand appear on the towel, it is probably “flea dirt.” Dispose of these in a bowl of soapy water (they will turn red when they come in contact with water).

4. Tapeworm Alert
Certain types of tapeworms use fleas as a host, so when you take your pooch for his or her flea treatment, you may also need to have them dewormed as well. Tapeworm infections are usually diagnosed by finding worm segments (they typically appear as small grains of rice or seeds) on your dog’s rear end, in their waste, or around the areas where they live and sleep. Because fleas are friendly hosts for the most common type of tapeworm, an effective flea treatment is also a great method of tapeworm prevention.

If your dog can’t stop scratching and your search for fleas seems to be in vain, you might need professional help. Schedule an appointment with one of our friendly, helpful vets at Brimley-Lawrence Animal Clinic in order to get your prized pup on the road to relaxation and recovery.
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