The flea is every dog owner's worse nightmare. This tiny, bloodsucking insect can easily infest pets and homes without proper prevention and treatment. Even a small number of fleas will quickly reproduce to large numbers because the female flea can lay 50 eggs per day. Due to their small size they can be relatively difficult to notice until it is too late, which makes prevention the most important step. Generally, dogs can get fleas from three different sources, including:
- Contact with outdoor pets and other animals
- At a boarding kennel or doggy daycare
- When traveling to warmer climates
Contact with outdoor pets is the number one source of fleas for dogs. While fleas can not fly, they can jump surprisingly far and will readily leap to a new host to feed and lay eggs. If your dog is not protected by a flea preventative, allowing interaction with outside pets will put him or her at high risk for fleas. Other animals are also a worry as cat fleas will happily infest dogs. Even dogs kept exclusively indoors or away from other pets can contract fleas via rodent infestations or contact with other flea-bearing animals.
Doggy daycare and boarding kennels are yet another source of fleas. While most daycare and boarding facilities require dogs to be flea free, their parasite checks may not always be thorough, and any untreated dogs are at risk to the parasites. Direct contact is not necessary as shared toys, bedding, and even a flea infested cage can cause the problem. Traveling to warmer climates can also result in a flea infestation for your dog. Fleas can spend more time off of their hosts and in the environment when it is warm, just waiting for a host to leap on. This is another way dogs contract fleas without animal or pet contact.
Prevention is the best way to deal with fleas. While the classic flea collar can be decent at preventing fleas, it is typically a poor treatment for an active flea infestation. Products such as Bayer's Advantage and K9 Advantix are ideal flea treatments as they not only kill fleas within 12 hours, they also prevent reinfestation for a full month. Remember, it only takes a single female flea to begin an infestation. To keep your dog and home flea free, be vigilant with any flea prevention method you ultimately choose.