Parasites: Does my dog ​​have fleas? This is how you recognize an infestation – and fight it

Fleas are extremely annoying companions for humans and animals: once the parasites have made themselves comfortable in your pet's fur, their population continues to grow.

Parasites: Does my dog ​​have fleas? This is how you recognize an infestation – and fight it

Fleas are extremely annoying companions for humans and animals: once the parasites have made themselves comfortable in your pet's fur, their population continues to grow. A female can already lay up to 50 eggs a day - which in turn are distributed by your dog throughout the apartment. For this reason, not only your four-legged friend has to be treated, but also his preferred sleeping and lying places at the same time. Eliminating all fleas, eggs, larvae and pupae is the only way to get the infestation under control. We have summarized for you below how this works best.

There are more than 1000 species of fleas, all with the same goal: to find a host whose blood they can feed on. Although the insects are only a few millimeters in size, they can still hop quite high and far. If they smell a treat, they jump on the fur of a four-legged friend - and eat their first meal. Shortly thereafter, the females begin to lay eggs. The surface of their eggs is so smooth that they fall off the dog. And thus distributed everywhere in the apartment (as well as outside). If the conditions are optimal, i.e. it is warm and humid enough, the larvae hatch after just a few days. Otherwise, they can even last up to six months before pupating and after ten days they are ready to infest a host.

Normally, fleas prefer to infest animals, dogs and cats, but they don't stop at people either. If an animal has bitten you, the symptoms are reminiscent of those of a mosquito bite - with the difference that the parasites bite several times and you will therefore notice several closely spaced puncture marks on the skin. The annoying companions are usually transmitted by conspecifics, but fleas can also be accidentally taken home by romping around in the great outdoors, such as a dog park. Once they have settled in, the first symptoms become noticeable after a short time. You can find out what these are and how to treat your dog (and the environment) correctly in the next paragraph.

It is nothing unusual for dogs to scratch themselves from time to time and is therefore not an indication of an infestation. However, if you have the impression that your pet has been grooming its fur particularly intensively for a few days - including biting and nibbling on its skin - you should start looking for clues. You don't always spot a flea in the dense (often dark) fur with the naked eye. Unless the infestation is so advanced that the small parasites jump out at you. To find out if your dog really has fleas, you can use the following method:

Get a fine-mesh flea comb and some kitchen roll (or a white tea towel) lightly dampened. Comb your dog's fur - against the direction of growth - and then tap the comb out on the paper or cloth. If there are small brown or black crumbs on it, crush them: if the particles turn brown or red, they are flea droppings or undigested blood, which the larvae use as a food source.

Other symptoms that – in addition to severe itching – indicate that your dog has a flea infestation include the following:

If your suspicion is confirmed, you need to act quickly. Insecticides that fight all stages of development have proven particularly effective against fleas - i.e. not only adult animals, but also the eggs, larvae and pupae of the insects. For example, depending on how heavy your pet is, you can use the following preparation to treat adult fleas directly: Frontline Spot on for dogs between two and ten kilos, between ten and 20 kilos, or between 20 and 30 kilos. The flea drops it contains are placed on the skin around your dog's neck and are said to cause the parasites to die as they suck the blood. According to the manufacturer, the effect lasts for several weeks.

Alternatively, there are other preparations for flea control, such as:

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Regardless of which preparation you choose, it is important that you follow the instructions for use exactly. This applies to the quantities as well as to the exposure time and the treatment period.

And another important note: Puppies are not spared from fleas either, but the use of an insecticide should be used with caution. It is best to talk to a veterinarian to make sure which treatment method is the right one - and does not harm your protégé's health.

Did you know that most fleas don't live on your dog at all, but in your home - distributed in all rooms where your pet regularly spends time? Researchers even assume that eggs, larvae and pupae make up 95 percent of the infestation. This quickly makes it clear how important it is not only to rid your dog of (adult) fleas, but also your living space. Starting with your pet's favorite places to sleep, such as the dog basket, to upholstered furniture, pillows and blankets or even carpets and the bed. In plain language this means: If possible, wash all textiles that fit in the washing machine at 60 degrees. Clean all floors as thoroughly as possible, the same goes for your car. Last but not least, so-called insecticidal room sprays have proven effective against fleas and their larvae. However, you should only use this when your dog is away.

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