Vet Services Hawkes Bay Ltd

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Jessica Nielson
Vet Nurse 

When a flea bites, its saliva causes the dog to itch. Fleas not only cause skin problems for dogs and us but can also cause other disease such as anaemia, flea allergy dermatitis and tapeworms.

The adult fleas you see on your dog only represent 5% of the whole population. The rest of the flea population in the form of lavae and eggs which live in the environment, waiting for a host to walk by. Dogs can pick up fleas from bedding, within the grass, soil or carpet and generally from areas not in direct sunlight, as well as other dogs and cats.

Flea problems can appear to come and go. This is because the immature stages of the flea (eggs, pupae) wait in the environment for the right conditions (warmth, humidity and stimulation) and when this happens they tend to hatch all at once onto the unsuspecting animal.

Some dogs develop a severe allergic reaction to the flea saliva and can develop flea allergy dermatitis.

Managing fleas can be frustrating and will require a long-term management plan. The key to successful management is consistency.

Tips to help manage and prevent a flea infestation:

  • Treat ALL animals in the household with a veterinary-recommended flea product including the cat!
  • Follow product instructions for application and usage i.e. monthly
  • Make sure animals are receiving the correct product for weight
  • Check your dog’s coat regularly for fleas and ticks especially after being away from home

On rare occasions, you may still see fleas even when your pet has been treated for fleas. Such failures can occur when:

  • Using a product that is not veterinary recommended
  • The flea product dose is incorrect for the pet species or size
  • Applying topical products onto a wet dog such as after a swim

If your dog is on a veterinary recommended product and the treatment has been applied according to the instructions, it is unlikely there is a product failure and more likely that the flea challenge is higher than normal and you are merely seeing the fleas that jump on your dog before they die. In these cases, it is important to try and identify the environmental infestation such as under the house, in the dog’s kennels, and use adequate cleaning practices to remove them including contact sprays and foggers for inside houses.

Are you on our flea programme? We can send them directly to you when they are due, ask one of our staff today!


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