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What Are Dog Fleas?

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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 29 November 2018
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Also known by their scientific name Ctenocephalides canis, dog fleas are a specific type of flea that primarily feeds on dog blood. Like other types of fleas, they breed rapidly and can be difficult to get rid of because of their breeding cycles. These fleas are a serious problem that can lead to severe discomfort and even death in certain cases. Getting rid of fleas requires treating the animal, the house, and sometimes the yard to eliminate the infestation. Once the infestation is gone, a pet owner can concentrate on prevention methods like the occasional flea drops.

Female dog fleas can lay up to 4,000 eggs on the dog’s fur, but only after feeding on blood. It takes several weeks for the egg to become an adult that can breed and increase the severity of the infestation. Even if dog fleas are left alone in an area with no sources of food, they can survive for months and then attack the next animal or even human who enters. Cats and humans are not immune to dog fleas; while their preferred meal is dog blood, they will feed on other potential sources of food.

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The first sign of a pet having dog fleas is frequent itching and biting. After a while of itching, the animal’s skin may become red and inflamed. If the dog fleas attack the pet owner, a rash may develop, in addition to that person experiencing the same stinging and itchiness as his or her animal. In very severe cases, usually limited to puppies or kittens, dog fleas can feed on an animal so much that the animal becomes weak from blood loss. In addition, dog fleas can transmit diseases and tapeworms to a pet, which can be more serious than a moderate or even severe infestation.

It is not enough to treat the animal; the house must also be treated for fleas. If the pet frequently goes outdoors, the yard may also need special flea treatment. Prevention methods like monthly medicated drops should be given to the pet in order to prevent re-infestation in the future. Some people also choose to treat their yards on a regular basis, though this is not necessary in some cases. Many prevention methods for fleas are scientifically proven safe, but all pets should be monitored for signs of irritation or allergies to a new flea control method.

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