My dog has fleas!

Med. vet. Fulya Şafak

Treating your dog against fleas is necessary for your dog’s general health. Fleas can lead to serious diseases such as skin inflammation (dermatitis), tapeworm. They also can carry various diseases, including the plague.

What is a flea?

Fleas are flightless insects which have the specialty of being able to jump fifty times their size through the hair of mammals (dogs, cats) and birds. The adult flea consumes blood by biting the host’s skin, and cause irritation.

flea under electron microscope
Flea under electron microscope

Why are fleas harmful to my dog?

Yes, they are not just irritating your dog, they also cause several diseases. In dogs, flea bites can lead to allergy dermatitis, reveal to tapeworms, and even cause anemia.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis

When flea is feeding, it injects under your dog’s skin. Naturally, flea’s saliva contact with your dog’s skin and causes an allergy which results in severe itching, skin lesions, skin thickening, and hair loss. Just a single flea’s bite can be enough to trigger the allergy. While some dogs can tolerate flea bites, some of them react really severely.

The tapeworm

It is a parasitic worm of the digestive tract that can cause various problems such as diarrhea,  weight loss. Fleas commonly carry the eggs of tapeworms. While your dog is licking himself, it can consequently ingest the flea which carries tapeworm eggs. Tapeworms attach themself to the wall of intestines and grow there.

How do I treat my dog against fleas?

There are several ways to protect and treat your dog from fleas. These are:

  • Oral solutions
  • Shampoos or sprays
  • Collars
  • Sprays
  • Spot on flea drops

Some products last 1 month, some of them for 3 months. Be sure to consult your veterinarian before you use any anti-flea product on your pet. 

Cats are not small dogs. Dog anti-flea products is highly toxic for your cat!

How to tell if my dog has fleas?

The adult flea consumes blood by biting the animal’s skin. Digested blood is expelled in the form of small blackish, comma-shaped droppings that are visible on the infected dog’s hair, like black colored dandruff. It is often through this excrement (also called flea dirt) that fleas are diagnosed. 

Other signs such as severe itching, skin lesions, redness of the skin, hair loss are also helpful to support to diagnose flea infestation.

Can the dog flea be transferred to humans?

The answer is “yes and no“. Fleas tend to specialize in a particular type of host. The fleas you find in your dog are not a species that are normally fed by humans, but there are always exceptions.

How to protect my dog from fleas?

Fleas can survive over months without any host. It is important to treat other animals in the house as well, even if they do not seem to be contaminated by fleas. Furthermore, in the case of heavy infestation, it is recommended to eliminate fleas and their eggs from the environment. 

Washing your dog’s bedding at 60 degrees, vacuuming regularly and using flea sprays or smoke will help you to fight against fleas. 

Don’t forget to use flea control products all year round. There are different types of flea products in different forms. Don’t forget to follow your veterinarian advice. They will help you to chose optimum treatment according to your dog’s breed, size. 


PetLEO task scheduler will remind you when your dog needs an anti-flea treatment.

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