Fleas are tiny, wingless, jumping insects that feed on the blood of mammals. Namely, dogs and cats. Fleas are external parasites that are able to pierce the skin of their hosts for their meals. So what's the big deal and why should you care? Is it really JUST a little bug bite? No.
Fleas are a big deal. Can you imagine having several tiny, itchy bugs crawling all over you? It would be uncomfortable, for one thing. More importantly, fleas can spread harmful diseases to your dog and you should care for that reason.
1. Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD)
Many people bring their dog to see the vet because they are itchy. More often than not, the dog has fleas. Thankfully, fleas are an easy fix with prevention. Flea Allergy Dermatitis also known simply as FAD is an allergic condition that is caused by the bite of a flea.
|Fleas are itchy!|
Dogs with Flea Allergy Dermatitis are sensitive to the saliva of fleas. It only takes one flea bite to cause an allergic reaction. Just one. When an immune response is triggered by the flea's saliva, skin irritation and itchiness can extend beyond the site of the initial flea bite and cause hair loss and/or skin infections. That's why flea prevention is so important for dogs with FAD.
One method of prevention that works well for dogs with Flea Allergy Dermatitis is the Seresto® collar. It contains two active ingredients that work to kill and prevent fleas on your dog. One of those active ingredients is Imidacloprid, which kills fleas through contact. The fleas do not have to bite the dog first to die. This is very important for dogs with Flea Allergy Dermatitis. Oral flea preventatives usually require the flea to bite your dog first before they die.
|Flat Shiner checks out Seresto at PetSmart in Arizona.|
For more information about Seresto, read our previous post HERE.
Tapeworms are an internal parasite that your dog can get from fleas. Dogs get tapeworms from ingesting a flea. Dogs groom themselves and sometimes may swallow an infected flea.
Once the tapeworm is inside of a dog's digestive system, it attaches itself to the intestinal lining. While tapeworms do not usually have any severe symptoms, who wants a long worm living inside of them?
The egg baskets of the tapeworms are released when a dog has a bowel movement and can be seen with the naked eye. They resemble white grains of rice and you can typically find them around your dog's anus or in their stool.
Bartonellosis mostly affects cats, but there is increasing evidence that dogs can also be infected with a bacteria called bartonella. Infection with the bacteria in dogs has been linked to fleas. Because veterinarians are finding more cases of bartonella infections in dogs, more information about the disease is becoming available.
There is still a lot that veterinarians don't know about Bartonellosis in dogs. Affected dogs don't usually show any symptoms. Bartonellosis in dogs has been linked to conditions that affect the heart, eyes, and liver.
Humans can be infected with this bacteria as well. It's commonly known as Cat Scratch Fever in humans. Another important reason to use a flea preventative on your dog.
4. Iron-deficiency Anemia
When a dog becomes severely infested with fleas, they are at risk of becoming anemic. It takes a lot of fleas to drink the blood of one dog, so we're talking about major infestations here. Iron-deficiency anemia is a serious medical condition that must be treated by a veterinarian. Puppies with fleas commonly experience iron-deficiency anemia.
|Puppies with fleas commonly experience Iron-deficiency anemia.|
Symptoms include lethargy, rapid breathing, weakness, pale gum color, and potentially death if the fleas are not taken care of. Should an infestation of this magnitude occur, treating your home and outdoor areas is also recommended.
Use a Flea Preventative to Protect Your Dog
No one wants their dog to get sick and flea prevention is so easy. Seresto offers 8 months of flea and tick protection for dogs. It's easy to apply - just put the collar on your dog and it does all the work. Seresto also hinders the reproduction process of fleas before they can lay eggs which can also help stop a flea infestation.
While fleas may seem small and harmless, they really aren't. Even if you don't have fleas at your home, they can be lurking in other places. Fleas are sometimes unavoidable, so it's better safe than sorry. Click here for more information on dog flea diseases.
How do you protect your dog from fleas? Tell us in the comments!