What Happens When Fleas Get On Your Dog Signs of a Dog with Fleas

BY | September 19 | COMMENTS PUBLISHED BY
What Happens When Fleas Get On Your Dog

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Find out what happens when fleas get on your dog, and learn to pick up on the signs that fleas have plagued your pet.

Is your dog jumpy? Has your cat been doing even more grooming than usual? These could be tip-offs that your pet has caught fleas. As well as causing your pet discomfort, fleas can lead to diseases, and a cat or dog with fleas can spread the pests around your home. Find out what it is like for your pet to host fleas, and learn to recognize the signs that fleas are tormenting your cat or dog.

Bites Are More Than Just Itchy

Fleas, like mosquitoes, bite for sustenance -- your petโ€™s blood is a fleaโ€™s dinner. Along with their saliva, fleas inject an anticoagulant chemical when biting. This anticoagulant is an irritant, causing redness and itching. For some pets and people, the bites wonโ€™t be a big deal, but for many pets, the bites are more than just a nuisance.

Fleas bite frequently, and new generations of fleas are born and develop quickly into adults. Given the volume of bites, pets can potentially grow anemic from the depletion of blood. If your cat or dog is extremely lethargic and has pale gums, this is a tip-off that your pet may have fleas. Fleas can also carry diseases and transmit them through bites, making them a carrier of problems like a tapeworm.

Flea bites can start to resemble hives and welts. Grooming may become somewhat obsessive and incessant as your pet tries to solve the flea problem. Rather than eliminating the problem, excessive grooming can lead to hot spots and hairless patches of fur on your cat or dog. In particular, you may see your pet lick, bite, and gnaw a lot around their paws.

Behavior Changes Caused by Flea Bites

Fleas can also cause your pet to behave differently -- your cat or dog might seem very skittish and jumpy in response to bites and discomfort. And, you might notice your pet avoiding certain previously comfortable spots in the house, which might be associated with fleas and mites.

Fleas Make Pets their Home

Unlike mosquitoes, fleas will persistently stick around, making a pet a host animal and feeding upon them for days or weeks if no treatment is used. The adult fleas will lay eggs on your pet, which generally roll onto the surrounding area. (If your cat likes a carpeted corner, or your dog has bedding, those are likely locations for flea eggs.) Once fleas progress through the life cycle to the adult phase, eating is imperative, and the new adult flea will use your pet as a feeding ground. Once fed, fleas will lay eggs, perpetuating the cycle.

In addition to using your pet as a source of sustenance, and a place to lay eggs, fleas also excrete on your pets. You may see flea dirt -- the dark reddish-brown feces of fleas -- on your petโ€™s skin. You may also see this flea dirt on carpets or bedding.

We recommend preventing a flea problem before it starts with the use of simple, effective spot-on or oral treatments like K9 Advantis II or Comfortis. For the best flea and tick medication for dogs and cats, check this list to see which medication has what you are looking for.

What if My Dog Eats a Flea or Tick?

The short answer is don't worry too much if your dog eats a flea or a tick. Your petโ€™s stomach is strong enough to handle accidental insect ingestion, and so are you! While watching your dog pick up a dead bug with the tip of his tongue might not be the most pleasant sight, as long as itโ€™s not a regular occurrence there is no cause for concern.

One Flea, Two Flea, Three Flea, Four

However, if your pet has developed an affinity for munching on bugs, I wouldnโ€™t be as cavalier about their crunchy diet. Speak with your veterinarian or a pet specialist if you notice flea and tick ingestion becoming a common problem. When fleas are consumed on a regular basis, the probability of your dog developing tapeworm greatly increases.

As fleas often feed on pet feces, they are known to carry tapeworm eggs in their system, which can be transmitted to a cat or dog upon digestion. In most cases, a dogโ€™s stomach acid should be strong enough to kill off the egg before it hatches. The same goes for ticks.

If a tapeworm does happen to develop, there are several safe and efficient treatments including fast-acting antibiotics. To prevent tapeworms, be diligent about preventative flea and tick control year-round. If your cat or dog is on a regularly scheduled treatment plan, the possibility of dead fleas, eggs or larva being accidentally eaten greatly decreases. On the same token, stay diligent about your petโ€™s hygiene as well as the cleanliness of your home to ensure a happy and healthy life for your pet.

More Flea and Tick Control Advice

What Does a Flea Bite Look Like?
Natural Flea Treatment for Your Home and Your Pet
What is Flea Allergy Dermatitis?

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis, or treatment by your veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified professionals with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional advice due to what you may have read on our website.

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