Flea bites cause nasty itches for dogs and lead to secondary skin conditions. Infestations are a common problem, so it’s important for every dog owner to know how to get rid of them. Luckily, there are several home remedies that can help get rid of fleas on your dog, kill fleas that have infested your home, and prevent fleas from entering your environment again. You should know what a flea infestation looks like, including the insects, their eggs, and their bites. Once you are sure your dog has fleas, you should begin treatment for bites and work on ridding them from your home in addition to taking preventative measures to make sure they don’t come back. Here is what you should know about fleas, their bites, and how to get rid of them.

What Do Fleas, Flea Eggs And Flea Bites Look Like?

Adult fleas are visible to the naked eye, but they are fast and can easily hide in your dog’s fur. They are usually brown or reddish brown in color and have six legs. Though they don’t have wings, they can jump very far, which is why you should be careful when examining your dog so the fleas don’t jump to your skin or hair.

Because fleas are so small and quick, you may be able to spot what is known as “flea dirt” more easily. Flea dirt is the feces of fleas. It may look like tiny grains of pepper or flecks of dirt. You can find it fairly easily on dogs with light colored fur, but it may be more difficult to spot against dark fur. To confirm that it is flea dirt and not ordinary dirt, you can run a comb through your dog’s coat, which should pull some of the dirt off and possibly some adult fleas, as well. Place the residue on a wet paper towel. Flea dirt will appear to have a rust color as it dissolves because it contains traces of blood, while regular dirt will be black or dark brown.

Flea eggs are clear and shaped like small ovals that are tinier than a grain of sand. They are laid in clusters of about 20, though you aren’t likely to see them on your dog. They mostly fall off your dog’s fur, so you may be more likely to spot them in your dog’s bed or favorite places to relax. They hatch after a few days, then, after feeding on blood, enter the pupal stage where they form a kind of cocoon that is very sticky and protects them from chemicals that you might use to kill them. Fleas in the pupal stage are the most difficult to get rid of.  

Flea bites appear, like other insect bites, as small red lesions. It can be difficult to tell them apart from other bites, though there are a few signs that indicate fleas are the cause of the lesions. Mosquito bites tend to be solitary and appear mostly at dusk when the insects are most active. Flea bites can occur in clusters and at any time of day. Tick bites are often accompanied by an actual tick that has latched on or look like a bulls-eye and are more elevated. Fleas do not latch on for a significant amount of time to feed and bites are less likely to be as elevated. The most common places that flea bites appear are on the groin, hind legs, and the back between the ribs and the tail.  If your dog is itching, it can be a sign of fleas. Dogs are actually allergic to the saliva of fleas, which is the cause of the itching. Some dogs, however, are not allergic to flea saliva and will show no signs of itching. Just because your dog isn’t scratching, licking, or chewing doesn’t mean they won’t have fleas.

How To Treat Flea Bites On Dogs

It is important to note that you should treat the flea infestation to get rid of the fleas before you begin treating the bites. If fleas are still present, more bites will appear. They symptoms of flea bites like redness and itchiness are the result of an allergic reaction. Therefore, flea bites should be treated with medication that suppresses allergies such as antihistamines or topical steroids. Secondary skin infections that may happen because of the bites or wounds from scratching may need to be treated with antibiotics.

Treatment Options

There are medications available, including spot-on treatments that are made with chemicals that kill fleas or break their life cycle so they die off. Often these are prescription treatments, and though they are effective at removing fleas, they do come with some side effects. Monthly treatments will help to prevent flea infestations.  

Chewable Tick And Flea Treatments, Flea shampoos, powders, sprays, and collars are also available.

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