WHAT IS A FLEA?
A flea is an external parasite that feeds on the blood of mammals. They live outside, in underground nests... until they find a host to live and breed on (such as your pet).
Fleas are very tiny, extremely fast, and they jump really high. Adults are about the size of a sesame seed - but thinner. They are dark brown/ almost black in color, and can be hard to find, especially if you have a dark coated breed.
Fleas multiply like crazy, can jump from pet to pet and wreak havoc on their skin and coat... potentially causing other more serious health problems if left unchecked.
A flea on an index finger
Two fleas next to a pen point.
FLEA LIFE CYCLE
Since fleas live outside, they are most prevalent in the spring and summer months. Typically after the first frost, you don't see much of them, but it is still possible for pets to get them in the winter.
Once inside your home, they will breed anywhere...
in your pets bed, in the carpet... also in your bed if your pets sleep with you!!
Fleas have a very fast life cycle. It takes as little as 2-3 days after getting ONE flea before they start to reproduce...and not only that...if they happen to drop eggs, (and believe me, they will) the eggs can survive for up to 8 months in a cocoon!!
So keep in mind, even if you kill the fleas on your pet, if you don't rid them of your home as well, you will just keep repeating the cycle.
Once you get a flea infestation in the home, it can be a huge hassle to get rid of them!!
This is what flea dirt looks like in the fur
Another way to tell is by combing the dirt onto a paper towel... and then spray water directly onto it. Flea dirt will "run" and turn the specks reddish brown- like this:
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY DOG HAS FLEAS?
One of the first indications that your dog may have fleas is SCRATCHING.
You are probably saying, "But my dog scratches himself all the time!!" Even if this is the case, you can still tell the difference because it is a different kind of scratch...
For instance, He could be in a deep sleep... when all of a sudden he turns and starts biting ferociously at the base of his tail.
Ever get bit by a mosquito? All of a sudden you get an itch that you just have to scratch?! - It's like that!! Because fleas bite!
And they will bite YOU too! especially around your ankles. Flea bites will leave a mark just like a mosquito bite would do, and it itches just as bad!
One of the easiest ways to tell if your pet has fleas, is to look for "flea dirt" by inspecting the fur at the nape of the neck and the base of the tail. Fleas love these two spots. You might not see anything crawling (and most of the time you won't-unless your pet has become infested.) But that means nothing...
Fleas are like ninjas!
Using a comb, or your fingers, spread the fur, and look for little black specks that kind of resemble dirt, or coffee grinds. If this is present, it is most likely flea dirt.
OK... so you see flea dirt ... what do you do?
First of all, don't panic. Don't freak out and run to the nearest pet store and buy a ton of harsh chemicals to soak, spray and dust everywhere...especially on your pet! Only in severe cases are these necessary. Fleas may be gross, but they are very common and can be taken care of quickly if you catch them before they get out of hand.
The first thing you need to do is bathe your pet .
The easiest thing to do would be to call us and let us do that for you...(Our hydrosurge bathing system works wonders against fleas) We can also assess the situation and let you know how bad it is and what steps you need to take at home to make sure he doesn't get re-infested.
While he is out of the house getting bathed, you will want to take that time to rid your home of fleas.
1. Wash all the bedding in hot water (your bedding too if your pet sleeps with you)
2. Vacuum thoroughly ...everywhere your pet goes! Including the furniture. You can use Diatomaceous earth (which is the main ingredient in flea powder) to sprinkle on the carpets before vacuuming. You can get it at any garden center, home depot or walmart.
3. Wash any throw rugs or blankets.
If we have consulted with you and determined that your pet is infested, chances are your home is too. We will let you know what other steps you need to take. You may need to purchase a fogger to set off in the home.
If you choose to give your dog a flea bath at home:
**Please note- If your dog is matted and has fleas- DO NOT BATHE HIM!! Call us. The mats need to be removed first. If there are mats, and you stick him in the tub, the fleas will crawl under the mats and hide. You end up not killing the fleas, not rinsing the shampoo properly, and making the matting worse... The end result is a wet matted flea infested dog with serious skin problems.
We'll let you in on a little secret... ANY SHAMPOO WILL KILL FLEAS. Yes. That's right. Any shampoo. There are absolutely some ingredients that will make the job quicker, But you really don't need to spend tons of money on expensive "flea shampoos". Fleas suffocate quite easily. As long as you do it exactly the way we tell you.
Put the dog in the tub/sink...
Before you even turn the water on, take a handful of shampoo on your dry dog, and starting at the nape of the neck, create a shampoo ring around the collar. Go all the way around the neck... Adding more shampoo as needed. Rub it in really good. Now do the same thing at the base of the tail, make a shampoo ring around the butt. This is going to create a barrier for the fleas -because what's going to happen is - as soon as you turn the water on and spray your dog, the fleas are going to "flee the scene" (pun intended) and run either straight to the top of the head or directly to the rump for cover...and once they get there, its all over. Its close to impossible to get them off the head. too many places to hide.
After you make the shampoo ring, you can wet the body and add shampoo. Keep wetting and lathering until you get a really thick white lather everywhere. make sure you get under the belly, under the armpits and under the tail. Let him soak for at least 10 mins. Keep adding warm water and lathering so he doesn't get chilly.
Be really careful around the face.
Especially the eyes and nose. We recommend using mineral oil drops to lubricate and protect the eye, or use a dog shampoo that is made for the face, particularly one that is PH balanced so it won't burn the eyes.
To wash the face:
Using your left hand, gently grip the hair on the chin while you slowly spray around the face with your right hand, getting it wet. Add shampoo and lather. If you do happen to get shampoo in the eye, don't be afraid to spray the water directly over the eyes. (Think about what happens if you get shampoo in your eye in the shower...You immediately spray the water over your eyes because it relieves the burning- its the same thing for dogs.) You can also use a cup to pour the water over the head if your dog is nervous about the sprayer... Just be careful not to shoot the water up their nose. especially dogs with turned up noses like pekingnese or shihtzu. That's usually what makes them freak out. Just do it slowly so they have a good experience.
After ten minutes, rinse really well...
Rinse until the water runs clear. You may see dead fleas coming off. They might get caught in the hair and you will need to comb them out. They make fine tooth flea combs for this.
We recommend shampooing twice. The second time using something like an oatmeal shampoo, or something soothing to the skin. Also let this sit, but only for about 5 mins. Longer if the bites were severe. The second wash will also help remove dead fleas if they are caught.
Towel dry or blow dry
don't forget to brush!