The Dangers of Fleas for Dogs

Written by Clara Lou

Have you ever tackled the problem of fleas in dogs? If not, you should know how dangerous they are and how you can prevent your dog from them. Those little jumpers can make your pooch’s life hell. The chances are high that your pooch is going to face fleas if he is not well-protected from them. 

You might’ve heard about human fleas which harm humans and treat them as hosts. But those are different than dog fleas. Actually, there are a zillion types of them. Anyway, we will discuss more about them soon. Read on if you’re considering to bring home a pet and want to know how harmful fleas can be to you and your pet.

What Are Fleas?

Fleas are wingless parasitic insects that thrive on hematophagy only. Hematophagy refers to getting nourished by consuming blood from a host organism. To our surprise, there are more than 2000 species of fleas and with the course of time, they have adapted to make living on an immensely specific variety of host organisms. That said, fleas thriving on dogs, human fleas, cat fleas are different than each other. In addition, there are some specific species thriving on rats and other rodents, birds, and other animals. You can compare fleas with a picky eater to understand this diversity.

As I mentioned, fleas are wingless insects, they don’t have to fly in search of a host. They are super athletes who can jump over a metaphorical building. A flea is of ⅛ to ⅙ inches long and can make a vertical leap of 7 inches and can cover 1 foot of distance on the ground. If they were of the size of humans, the same flea could make 160 feet high and 295 feet long leap! If you see a similar bug like fleas on and around your pet and not sure whether it’s flea, it’s the time to be alert and take preventive measures.

However, not all the fleas jump. This depends on the species they belong to. Fleas have strong legs but they don’t use muscular power to take leaps. Fleas’ bodies store a protein in their legs called resilin, which is highly elastic and help them to make longer jumps.

Fleas Is a Bigger Issue for Pet Parents

A lion’s share of the pet supply industry is dedicated to preventing fleas in pets. And this is not going to cease anytime soon. Fleas can cause a variety of medical condition in pets and that again makes flea a bigger consideration in a pet owner’s life. 

The most common flea caused medical condition is Flea Bite Dermatitis which causes a specific allergy to the flea saliva. Now, this allergy makes dogs to excessively scratch that breaks open the skin. And the scab starts getting infected. This can happen to any areas of your Fido’s skin but their back and base of the tail are frequent sites. If you see fleas in her body, visit your veterinarian immediately. Your buddy will need medication to remove fleas and for the infection as well. 

Apart from these external medical issues, pets also pose the risk of getting other internal medical complexities and infestations. So, it is always better to take preventive measures for fleas. Flea collars are a great way to keep the fleas away. They are different than the normal collars where you attach a leash. They are used for a specific purpose of getting rid of fleas just like dog bark collars are used for curbing excessive barking.

What Internal Infections Can Fleas Cause?

Talking about the internal problems fleas cause, tapeworms are the second on the list. Tapeworms are also parasites which make their way to your pet’s body when your doggie ingests the flea. 

Tapeworms initially find their home inside fleas. They can be as small as the size of ½ inch and looks like small maggots. These segmented parasites can grow as long as 12 inches also. So when they make their way to a dog’s body, they thrive inside and can grow bigger. A primary sign of tapeworm in dogs is weight loss for unknown reasons and itchy rear portion of the body. If you see some of these indications, please visit your vet. 

One more internal medical issue due to fleas is flea-bite anemia. Young pups and kittens are prone to anemia when they are exposed to an immense flea infestation. What happens here is when there are too many fleas on tiny bodies, fleas suck the host’s blood to the extent where it causes deficiency of red blood cells in the body. The total count of RBC diminishes and the dog becomes anemic. Sometimes this condition can turn into a matter of grave if not given proper treatment. Fortunately, the effects can be reversed with proper treatment by your vet to get rid of fleas.

Season Influences Fleas

The amount of struggle you have to face highly depends on what kind of climate you and your buddy live in.  In cold and chilly climates, fleas will die due to cold or stay dormant until the warm weather returns. Only the northeast and the northwest winter weather provides fortification against these parasites. And in the warmer regions, fighting the fleas lasts all year long.

Fleas can enter your house in the weirdest ways. Generally, fleas are found on wild animals (wild canines) which get stuck on the bushes. And your four-legged furry friend comes into contact with them and bring them home. Not necessarily your pet brings them home, fleas can stick on your clothes and they can find your dog as a host. Nevertheless, pet parents have to make sure that fleas don’t infiltrate your space even if it turns colder. 

Some of you might think or have heard that fleas are only a problem during spring and summer but never overlook fall. According to experts’ observation, during fall and colder months, fleas tend to be dormant and stick to their warm hosts. Fleas would die if they stay outside of the house due to severe cold but once they’re inside, they can survive and thrive. All in all, I would recommend you to incorporate year-round protection. But there are more chances that your dog be a host during summers and springs. 

Humans Are Also at Risk

As we discussed, fleas are not likely to make you a host but they can still be a potential danger to pet parents. 

Fleas don’t live on your skin and thrive but they can bite you which can spread diseases including plague and cat scratch disease. That warrants a vet visit if you sense symptoms of any of the diseases. 

The EndNote

Tackling the problem of fleas is definitely going to cost you money. What’s more important here is the precautions and preventive measures because fleas can also cost you your pet’s health and well-being if they enter your space. They are quite dangerous as they not only thrive on your buddy’s blood but also cause wounds, infections, other parasitic infusions and diseases related to flea bites. So make sure your pet never gets fleas. Long live the canines and felines.

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About Simba's Mom

I was born and raised in California, lived in Pennsylvania for several years, and have recently moved to Delaware. I have gone from being a teacher for 20 years to a blogger and now back to teaching but still blogging. I have a great dog named Simba. Simba is a German Shorthaired Pointer. Life with Simba is an adventure every day. I have had dogs my entire life but I have learned most about dogs living with Simba. German Shorthaired Pointers really do become your best friend. They become extremely attached and that is why they say they have the Velcro phenomenon. Simba now has a sister 8 years younger and her name is Gypsy.
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