Fleas are small insects that survive by feeding on animal or human blood. Their bites can cause discomfort, itchiness, and irritation.
How do dogs get fleas?
Your dog will probably pick up fleas outside during contact with other animals, whether it’s another pet or wildlife. Dogs are social creatures, and fleas can jump from the pup they met in the park to your pooch or even from other pets. And, since dogs love to investigate open spaces where wild animals are, there is a good chance of them catching fleas there.
You can also become a carrier as fleas will attach themselves to your socks, pants legs, and shoes. Fleas can also jump tremendous distances!
Fleas leave tiny, red, raised dots on your dog’s skin. They are typically smaller than other insect bites, although they can become inflamed after a dog scratches.
- Severe scratching and itching
- Biting and chewing at skin
- Hair loss
- Red, irritated skin
Some dogs will also lose hair or get scabs and hot spots from their flea infestation. You might also see flea dirt, which is brown and scaly, on your dog’s skin.
4 Health Problems Fleas Can Create If Untreated
- Tapeworm Infestation
- Canine Bartonellosis – commonly known as cat scratch fever – a bacterial infection that dogs can get in their bloodstream. Canine Bartonellosis is carried by fleas, ticks, lice, and sand flies. This infection has a higher prevalence in the South where hunting and herding dogs tend to live outside or in rural settings.
Symptoms: fever, swollen lymph nodes, sore muscles, nose discharge and/or nosebleed, digestive upset (vomiting or diarrhea), and/or inflammation of the heart (coughing, difficulty breathing or fainting).
- Anemia – Anemia happens when your pet’s body does not produce enough hemoglobin or red blood cells, or when your dog suffers severe blood loss because of conditions such as stomach ulcers, cancer, tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, blood loss caused by parasites, poor nutrition, bone marrow disease or a serious injury or accident.
Anemia from flea bites can prove especially dangerous to toy breeds, very young dogs, and canines already suffering from a low red blood cell count. Unchecked, the condition can lead to severe illness and death in these animals.
- Contact Dermatitis – can be caused by any number of things. It can either be a symptom of different conditions or can be considered an ailment on its own. If your dog comes into contact with something that irritates his skin, he/she may develop symptoms immediately, or over a period of a couple days. Flea saliva can trigger an allergic reaction. The immune system will then send histamine to the bite wound, resulting in red, itchy welts.
There are three main ways to prevent fleas on your pet: collars, topical applications, and oral medications.
However, preventive care is preferable to treatment. Regular baths and frequently washing your dog’s bedding, pillows, and clothing that have come into contact with your pet can also help since hot water and soap kills fleas.