If you have a new pup in your life, the time to think about puppy flea treatment is now! Flea bites cause puppies all kinds of problems. Flea allergy dermatitis is the most common skin ailment for dogs.
Every time a flea bites, it leaves behind saliva that irritates the bite, often causing an allergic reaction. The resulting dermatitis is very uncomfortable for your little dog and can lead to infection…
Fleas can bite dozens of times an hour or more, they feed on a tiny bit of blood with every bite, so puppies can become anemic with a large enough infestation. These bugs also spread nasty parasites, including one variety of tapeworm. Luckily, with proper care, fleas won’t be a bother. You just have to know what to do.
How To Check Your Puppy For Fleas
You won’t always notice fleas unless you look closely. A dog that is very itchy, particularly around its back end, may be infested. If your pup is scratching and biting around his flanks, take a close look at the skin under his fur. Fleas tend to bite around the dog’s hindquarters and around the face and ears. Bites will be easily visible on the lower belly where the hair is short and thinner.
Beneath thick coats they can be hard to see sometimes, but fleas will be visible as tiny hopping insects, a little bit bigger than the period at the end of this sentence. They will also leave behind “flea dirt”, white/brown flakey residue, and red bite marks. “Flea dirt” turns red if it touches water, so try this if you’re unsure.
Combing your pup on a white towel will catch flea dirt for further visual inspection. Run a flea comb through the hair and you will see fleas caught in the teeth of the comb. Checking for fleas should be a routine part of combing your puppy. If caught early, a flea infestation won’t get out of control.
Treatment And Prevention
If you have a very young puppy (younger than 8 weeks) a bath in warm water mixed with Dawn detergent is a very effective treatment against fleas. This soap kills fleas quickly and you will have only to pick the leftover bugs off with tweezers.
Dawn is safe to use on puppies (just keep it out of their eyes) and is used by many breeders. Take care using “natural” flea treatments for tiny puppies because they can be dangerous for the young ones.
Puppies older than 8 weeks
If your puppy is 8 weeks or older there are great products available that will make flea bites a thing of the past. They are long-lasting, working up to 7 months when applied directly to the skin or are maintained with a monthly pill.
Modern flea preventers include IGRs (insect growth regulators). IGRs are chemicals that don’t harm your precious pup but do significant damage to fleas. Some IGRs keep flea larvae from maturing. Others sterilize adults to prevent reproduction. Most will also kill current infestations. Through a combination of these effects, fleas will quickly be history.
Top-spot puppy flea treatment comes in small tubes and are applied to a puppy’s neck area, between the shoulder blades. This is a spot where the drug can do its work without a curious puppy licking it off. Drugs like Advantage and Frontline mix with the oils on a dog’s skin, providing a barrier against fleas. Revolution mixes with a puppy’s bloodstream for another very effective treatment. These medications kill adult fleas and prevent future generations with IGRs.
Excellent treatments like Frontline Plus are also effective against ticks. Combination flea and tick treatments will feature some combination of the drugs fipronil, methoprene, Nylar, and/or etofenprox.
Your vet will have all the information you need to pick out the right treatment for these pests. If you choose an over-the-counter flea treatment, closely follow the instructions on the label. These medications are essential when fighting to win the bug wars!
It is important not to forget the most important line of defense, a flea-proof house. Once your pup gets fleas, they start to reproduce prolifically. After your dog is de-flead, wash all of her bedding thoroughly to get rid of any stragglers and their eggs. Next vacuum everything in your house. Any crevice can be a haven for fleas and their spawn.
A last method is using a dehumidifier or two to dry out the air to the point where fleas cannot survive. Anything below 50% humidity will work do the trick in one or two days. Keeping the house clean and your puppy treated should keep your domicile flee free.