Does my dog have fleas?
The best way to check if your dog has fleas is to use a flea comb. Comb the coat carefully, especially in places where fleas like to reside (tail base, armpits, groins). In this way you can find adult fleas or flea dirt (also called flea droppings of flea poop). Flea dirt looks like black grains. You can see the difference between flea dirt and grains of sand by rubbing the black grain on a wet, white tissue. It’s flea dirt when the tissue colours (light) red, because flea dirt consists of digested blood. If you find fleas on your dog it's very important to treat not only your dog but also the other pets in your house. Because about 5% of the fleas reside on your dog and the other 95% are in the environment (your house) it is also important to take care of the fleas in your house. Tapeworms are transmitted by fleas, therefore is it is recommended to worm your dog in addition to a flea treatment. Of course it is even better to treat your dog regularly against fleas to prevent flea infestations!
Which fleas can my dog be affected with?
Two types of fleas occur in dogs: the dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis) and the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis). Other than that you would think by its name, the cat flea is the most common species in the dog. Fleas and their larvae and eggs are widespread in our environment. It is therefore hard to prevent contact with your dog. Your dog gets infested when an adult flea from the environment jumps on it. The adult fleas start feeding, after which the female fleas lay their eggs. The number of eggs can get up to 600 eggs per flea! These eggs fall from the fur of your dog and end up in the environment. Here the eggs will change into larvae, which then are cocooning into adult fleas. The adult fleas can infest dogs again. Fleas in the cocoon stage can survive several months and they are very resistant to external influences. The cocoons will only come out when hosts (dogs) are around. As an adult flea feeds on a dog, a bit of saliva is injected into the skin of the dog. This saliva causes itching and irritation in most dogs, and can cause a severe allergic reaction in some dogs. An allergic reaction can be recognized by severe itching and scratching of the skin with open wounds (hotspots) as a result. In a severe flea infestation anaemia can also occur.
How often should my dog be treated against fleas?
Fleas are present throughout the year, and not only in spring and summer. It is therefore very important to protect your dog against fleas throughout the year with appropriate products. There are many products available that protect against fleas. There are spot-on applications (pipettes) which are generally administered monthly. Furthermore there are sprays, flea collars and shampoos which work from 1 week to 8 months against fleas. There are also products that work both for ticks and fleas. Depending on your own situation, you can choose the product that suits you best.