Preventing Flea Bites on Dogs

Discover tips for preventing flea bites on dogs. Flea infestations are troublesome to both pets and owners. Pets are at risk for three health issues discussed below. Flea control is key to ensuring fleas do not bother your pets. There are a few ways to prevent fleas from finding their way into your home.

Health Issues Related to Canine Flea Bites

One of the biggest health concerns with an infested dog involves allergies to the flea bites. Flea allergy dermatitis occurs when a dog is allergic to a flea's saliva. The saliva irritates the skin, causing severe itching. Eventually a dog with untreated flea allergy dermatitis may damage his skin with his claws and lose fur. Scabs form on the skin, increasing the itchiness and heightening the chance for a bacterial infection.

Flea anemia is most common in puppies and elderly dogs. With a flea infestation, the fleas feast frequently, draining blood from the dog's body. If enough blood is taken, anemia sets in.

Tapeworms are another risk with flea bites. Flea larvae eat particles found on the ground, including tapeworm eggs. When a dog grooms himself to get rid of fleas, the tapeworm eggs are also consumed. In the digestive tract, the eggs hatch and attach themselves to the intestines. In the intestines, the tapeworm's life cycle continues. Anemia is a risk, but generally the tapeworms are more of a nuisance.

Keeping Fleas out of Your Home

Spraying the perimeter of your home or yard with an insecticide can help keep fleas from entering. If you have children, you'll need to keep them away from treated areas until the spray dries.

If you're cautious about using chemicals around your home, diatomaceous earth is a great alternative. The powdery substance damages the exoskeletons of many insects, causing them to dehydrate.

Flea Prevention Medications

Flea preventatives are the best method for keeping your dog free of flea bites. When visiting your veterinarian, ask about oral and topical flea medications. You need a prescription for some of these medications. Medications have limited side effects, usually related to minor allergic reactions to them. Be certain that the medication you choose is safe for puppies under eight weeks of age.

There are a number of flea prevention medications, including:

  • Advantage (Topical)
  • BioSpot (Topical)
  • Capstar (Oral)
  • Comfortis (Oral)
  • Frontline (Topical)
  • K9 Advantix (Topical)
  • Program (Oral)
  • Revolution (Topical)
  • Sentinel (Oral)

Oral medications are popular in homes with multiple pets. If you use topical flea medications, it's important to keep other pets from licking the area where the medicine has been applied. If you are uncertain whether you can keep your cat or dog from grooming your medicated pet, an oral medication is probably best.

Topical medications work quickly. Squeeze the vial of medication between your dog's shoulder blades or down the spine. Because some medications are poisonous to humans, you may want to wear latex gloves when applying. If the topical flea treatment does get on your skin, wash the area immediately.