Fleas are a common problem with dogs.  It can be absolutely dreadful if your dog gets infested by fleas.  Fleas can happen anytime of the year, not just in the summer, though in some climates they are more prominent in the summer because they like the summer weather.  Fleas thrive in temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees and like humidity levels between 75-85 percent.  Fleas cannot fly but they do use their back legs to jump between pets which can make trying to figure out where your dog got fleas very tricky.  

Where does my dog get fleas?

The most common place your dog may pick up fleas is from the environment.  This could mean out in your backyard, while out on a walk, being at a friend’s house, the kennel, the groomers, or even doggie daycare.  Another way your dog can pick up fleas is from other animals.  This could be wild animals, neighborhood dogs you pass on a walk, or other dogs if your dog goes somewhere to socialize.  This could be a dog park, or doggie daycare.  Dog’s are curious and social animals so keeping them completely away from other pets can be hard.  Your dog can get fleas if your house becomes infested by fleas.  Fleas can be brought in on human clothing, though they don’t like to live on humans they will take a ride until they find a more enjoyable host.  

The Flea Life Cycle

The flea life cycle is important in learning how to either treat, or prevent fleas.  There are four phases of a fleas life cycle.  Starts out as an egg, then larva, then pupa, then adult.  A female flea can lay 40 eggs a day, and sometimes in one lifetime lay up to 2000 eggs.  The eggs will hatch within 1-10 days of being laid.  Eggs are spread by a dog scratching, shaking or laying down.  Once the eggs hatch the fleas go into the larva stage.  If they hatch on a host they will feed off blood and go into a cocoon where they stay in the pupa stage for either a few days or up to a year.  At this point they wait for a warm body host.  When they have a host they will hatch and become adult fleas.  

It is important to know the flea life cycle because different treatments will attack fleas at different stages.  So knowing what stage of fleas you are dealing with can help with treatments.  Make sure you read the labels of any flea treatment you are about to use.  You can also speak with your veterinarian for help with what is the best treatment. 

Is my dog at risk for fleas?

Any dog can become infested with fleas.  Dogs who have been treated can also become infested.  This usually happens for one of three reasons.  One, your dog is not treated long enough.  Two the treatment is used incorrectly.  Three the incorrect product is picked for treatment.  The best way to avoid fleas is to make sure you are treating your pet year round correctly. 


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Flea Treatments for Your Dog

There are different treatment options you can pick for your dog.  Some treatments are better for different breeds.  Different treatments attack fleas at different stages in their lifecycle. 

One treatment that you can choose is a flea collar.  This would stay on your dog inside and outside during the peak flea season in your area.  Flea collars spread chemicals along the outside of your dog through the oils on its fur and skin.  These chemicals will linger on your dog and kill any flea that lands on them.  Some brands of flea collars will last up to 90 days before they need to be replaced. 

There are also oral and topical flea control choices.  Flea and tick pills can be effective if your dog already has fleas. 

Topical spot treatments have been shown to be some of the fastest treatments. 

Some people decide to combine flea control and heartworm prevention together in a pill form.  If these don’t work you can talk to your veterinarian about prescription strength flea medication. 

For dogs who have fleas, a flea shampoo can be very effective when used properly.  Flea shampoos will not prevent other infestations from happening.  

What to do if your house is flea infested?

If your house becomes infested with fleas there are some things you should do to get rid of them.  You can always call an exterminator who will come and use environmental flea control, such as a fog to rid your house of fleas.  There are store bought environmental flea controls that you can buy yourself.  You may have to be out of your home for an extended period of time with these. 

You will also need to wash your bedding with extremely hot water to kill the flea pupa.  Make sure you wash all your dog’s bedding, and soft toys.  Area rugs, bath mats, and throw rugs will also need washing.  All carpets will need to be thoroughly vacuumed, regularly.  You will need to vacuum constantly for a while to make sure you get fleas picked up in all stages of their life cycle.  Steam cleaning carpets can also help make sure you kill any lingering fleas. 

If you believe your dog got fleas from your yard you can do a nontoxic flea treatment on the yard.  If your dog has been in your car you will need to vacuum and clean that out as well.  

Without a host a flea can only live for a few days to 2 weeks.  All dogs can get fleas.  Fleas can happen all year round not just in the summer months if you live in a warm humid climate especially.  The best way to avoid fleas is to treat your dog year round.