When you see your dog itching and scratching, you probably would jump into the conclusion that fleas are the culprit. While it may be true, read further to learn more about the common tell-tale signs of fleas infestation.
What Are Fleas?
There are more than 2,500 species of fleas existing worldwide and two of the most common among pets are the dog and cat fleas. Nevertheless, do not get fooled! Contrary to their names, these fleas can feed on whatever host they can find whether it’s your dog, cat, rabbit, or even yourself.
Ticks & Fleas: What is the Difference?
You might be confused with fleas and ticks. Although both are parasites of human and pets that cause painful, irritating bites and potentially carrying diseases, these pests are different in terms of appearance habits, life cycle, and treatment.
For instance, ticks are generally larger than fleas. They are flat, teardrop-shaped, and often appear as small dark specks on clothing and pets’ fur. They can live their adult lives on multiple hosts, including you and your pets. Fleas, on the other hand, are about the size of a pinpoint needle and generally spend their adult life feeding and reproducing on your cats and dogs. Although, as earlier mentioned, they will not shy from latching on you, too.
If left untreated, both these pests could proliferate, causing untold stress and several flea-related health issues to your pet. Read more about the difference between different types of ticks and fleas.
But, where do pets get fleas anyway?
Fleas are a common environmental hazard that survives particularly in the warm, humid weather in Singapore. They favor shady and humid places such as yards or gardens with tall grasses and shrubs.
Infested animals like rodents, or your neighbours’ cats and dogs can all spread fleas around and once your dog has picked some of them, they can bring them to your home, where they multiply and lay eggs in your carpeting, furniture, and any other suitable breeding grounds.
Consequently, if your dog frequents public places where other pets are—kennels, pet-boarding places, grooming stations and parks—their chances of acquiring fleas become higher.
It is essential to be aware of the signs of dog, and more importantly, how you can address the infestation immediately.
How to Detect Fleas in Your Pet
If you suspect your dog has fleas, check both your pet and your home for the following signs:
Intense Scratching, Licking and/or Biting
Like most parasites, fleas feed on blood for survival and in this case, it is your pet’s blood. Unfortunately, your dog can be allergic to the protein in flea saliva, causing it to scratch, lick, or bite particularly in the head, neck, tail, armpits, and/or groin.
Unusual Red Pimples or Bumps
Some dogs and even cats can be allergic to flea bite saliva hence when they’re infested with fleas, they may develop allergic reactions in the form of red pimples or bumps usually in its groin, belly, under the legs or at the base of its tail.
Constant itching, scratching or biting in flea-infested areas can also result in your dog’s hair loss and dry skin. If left untreated, these can develop into rashes, crusty lesions, and infection, which can lead to more severe flea-related problems.
Anaemia is a serious complication of flea-infestation in dogs and results by pale gums, which indicates that the fleas are feeding more blood than your dog produces.
Flea and Flea Dirt
The most obvious sign of flea infestation in your dog are the fleas and themselves and the remnants they leave behind.
What do fleas look like?
They have red or brownish-red thin, flat-shaped body, with six legs that help them jump long distances. They have mouths that are adapted for piercing the skin and sucking blood. These pests tend to leave black or brown specks, called flea dirt, around which is actually their faeces composed of digested blood.
How to Get Rid of Fleas
Fleas do not merely stay on your dog. They are present around the house, particularly in areas where your pet spends most of its time. So, besides regular inspection on your pet, you should also check your home for fleas.
One inspection method you can do is the white sock test:
Try wearing white socks and walk around areas frequented by your dog. Any fleas or flea dirt that you may pick up should be strikingly visible against the white background.
It also pays to take the pre-emptive steps to keep fleas away from your home:
- Vacuum regularly
- Wash pet bedding weekly
- Check your pets regularly for fleas
- Clean carpets, bedding, and other furnishings periodically
- When moving into a new home, make sure to inspect for signs of a flea infestation, such as eggs or flea dirt (faeces)
What to do if you have fleas in your house?
When you have confirmed a flea infestation in your home, you have to do more than merely getting your dog treated.
Addressing a flea infestation isn’t a one-and-done battle, it’s a war that can last for days, if not weeks—and you need a pest control professional to effectively get rid of them.
At Rentokil, we offer pest control for fleas and provide professional recommendations to keep a pest problem at bay. Talk to one of our pest experts today at (65) 6347 8138 for more information.