Did you know that a single flea can bite a dog (or human host) several hundred times per day? Each time one of these small parasites bites into a host, it draws blood while simultaneously injecting a small amount of saliva. This saliva may cause itching, swelling, paint, redness, scabbing, and it could even hold a number of different viral diseases. The bottom line is that dog owners need to take immediate action at the first sign of an infestation to protect their beloved canines from these blood-sucking parasites.
The first thing you should do after noticing fleas on your dog is to give your pooch a bath. Don’t just hose them off in the backyard and call it a day, but instead take the time to give your dog a proper bath using a flea-medicated shampoo (sold at most pet stores). I recommend running lukewarm water in the bath and soaking your dog by pouring it over them with a large cup, pitcher or bucket. After your dog’s coat is wet, gently massage the flea shampoo into their coat. You should read the instructions to ensure proper application, but it’s usually best to let the shampoo soak in your dog’s coat for at least 5 minutes, as this helps to eliminate a greater portion of the fleas.
The next step in your battle against fleas is to brush your dog. You’ll obviously need to wait until your pooch has finished drying, at which point you should groom your dog using a flea comb. Flea combs have teeth that are constructed tightly together, which are used to catch fleas. As you run the comb through your dog’s fur, stop after every couple of passes to see if it’s caught any fleas. Assuming you bathed your dog using the method mentioned above, you shouldn’t find many fleas. However, if you happen to come across any, you should drown them by placing them in a cup of soapy water.
Lastly, apply a flea treatment/preventative medicine to your dog to keep these blood-sucking parasites at bay. Avoid general flea collars, and instead invest in a premium medicine like FrontLine Plus, Advantage, or Advantix. These products are classified as either insect growth regulators (IGR) and/or insect growth inhibitors (IGI), meaning they break the flea’s life cycle. Attempting to stop an infestation simply by using kill-on-contact products doesn’t always work since flea eggs are immune to these products. IGR and IGI products, however, are effective against adult fleas, pupae, larvae and eggs.