|No fleas in this weather!|
Being that a single female flea is capable of laying over 2000 eggs in her lifetime and a flea is able to survive over 100 days without a meal, it's no wonder these pesky creatures are such a big problem for both our dogs and us dog parents! If your pet gets fleas, while it can be super irritating to watch them scratch and bite at themselves, it goes beyond just annoying, and can also be a real health hazard for them.
Allergy (Flea Allergy Dermatitis)
When your dog is allergic to fleas, they are hypersensitive to flea bites. The saliva from the flea bite causes them to have a negative skin reaction beyond just normal itchiness. Your dog will display extreme itching and will likely form break outs on their skin. I believe Murray has a flea allergy. One summer, without any other symptoms, I noticed the fur on his back legs was disappearing. He had been slowly and discreetly pulling it out while chewing on himself. After talking to my vet, I was told that this is a common sign of fleas. After treatment his fur slowly grew back. I hadn't found a flea on him, but I knew they had to be there.
If your pet contracts what is commonly called "tapeworm", that parasite hangs out in your pet's small intestine. It causes problems for your dog because as your dog digests it's food and the food flows past the tapeworm in the intestine, the worm steals many important nutrients from your dog. A sure sign your dog has tapeworm is if you notice what looks like little pieces of rice around their rectum or attached to their poo. These are actual "segments" of the tapeworm coming out. If you look carefully, they even move at first. The flea's role in passing your dog tapeworm is that many fleas have tapeworm inside of themselves. When your dog bites and chews on himself to kill the annoying fleas biting at him, he ingests fleas filled with tapeworm. Now your pup has tapeworm too.
Fleas feast on blood. If your dog's red blood cells are compromised in any way (too few), having fleas can cause life threatening problems, at any age. A couple signs of possible flea anemia are pale gums and lethargy. Many pets with flea anemia will require blood transfusions to help restore red blood cells. This would be a true emergency and you should see your vet immediately.
Sometimes it's difficult to even determine if your dog has fleas in the first place. They move quickly and are oftem so small that our eyes don't catch them. If you have a dark colored dog, the job is even more infuriating. Looking for "flea dirt" is a trick to see if your dog is being attacked by these pesky bugs. Basically, flea dirt is flea poop. It will look like dandruff, but dark in color. To test out if what you're seeing is in fact flea dirt, place some on a paper towel and run water over it. If it turns a reddish brown color, you likely have flea dirt, and also fleas.
Talk to your veterinarian about the appropriate flea treatment for your particular dog. There are many options out there and some are better suited for some dogs than others.