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A dog may be for life
Hopefully those little bug**** are not!

If your dog has ever had fleas, you will know just how difficult it can be to treat them. The National Canine Defence League answers some of your questions to enable you to take appropriate action to avoid your dog suffering with a flea problem.

  • A dog will almost certainly suffer from a flea infestation at some point during its life.
  • The number of fleas would normally decrease during the cold winter months. However, as most houses are now centrally heated, fleas are provided with an ideal environment in which to survive all year.
  • The length of the flea life-cycle depends on temperature and humidity. In an ideal environment, the cycle can be around 21 days.
  • By far the most common flea in dogs (and cats) is the cat flea Ctenocephalides felis.
  • Some dogs will develop a hypersensitivity to flea saliva, and this can lead to an itchy reaction.
  • One or two fleas would be quite enough to cause a marked irritation.
  • Most flea reaction in dogs are seen on the lower back area, above the tail.
  • Fleas spend the majority of their life-cycle in the home environment. Only adult fleas are seen on the dog.
  • The female flea lays eggs on the dog's coat. These fall off and can be found wherever your dog spends most of its time - in its bedding, in the carpet, on the sofa, or even in your bed!
  • The flea lives by ingesting blood from your dog several times a day.
  • More often than not, an owner will notice small specks of grit on the dog's coat. To establish whether this is flea dirt, brush the coat and allow the material to fall onto a moist white tissue. Flea dirt will produce a red mark.
  • Dogs can also pick up fleas from outside the home or from other animals.
  • Adult fleas do not live for long on your dog and die after 7-14 days, only to be replaced by the ones developing in the environment.
  • Fleas are also the intermediate host of the tapeworm. Therefore, it is important to remember when treating your dog for fleas to treat him for tapeworms too.
  • Effective flea treatment and control involves treating both the environment and the dog for all the reasons state above.
  • Flea preparations come in all forms - aerosols, powders, pump action sprays, insecticidal and herbal collars, spot-ons, oral tablets or shampoos.
  • Treatment of the environment involves using a recommended aerosol spray and regular vacuuming. Don't forget under the skirting boards, under the sofa and the dog's bedding.
  • There are a large number of flea products available. Ask your local veterinary surgeon for advice on which products will suit you and your dog's needs.

Life-cycle of the Flea

  • The female flea lays eggs on the dog's coat, which drop off in the dog's bedding, carpets, sofa.
  • The eggs hatch into larvae.
  • The larvae develop by feeding on organic debris (flea dirt) in he environment. At this stage the larvae may become infected by tapeworm eggs.
  • The active larvae forms a 'cocoon' (pupa) in which the flea forms. The adult flea will emerge from the cocoon in 10-17 days but may often remain in this stage for months, so it is important to treat the environment all year round.

And remember prevention is better than cure!

Reprinted by kind permission of the National Canine Defence League (NCDL).

The NCDL exists to protect and defend all dogs from abuse, cruelty, abandonment and any form of mistreatment, both in the UK and abroad. The charity seeks to achieve this aim through the work of its nation-wide network of rescue centres, education and advocacy work and welfare campaigns. The charity is committed to the belief that no healthy dog should ever be destroyed and that all dogs should be protected, wanted, suitably homed for life and cared for by responsible owners.

For more information or advice on this subject or any other welfare and educational work, please telephone or write (with an SAE) to:-

17 Wakely Street, London EC1V 7LT
Tel. 0171-837 0006
Web site: http://www.ncdl.org.uk. Go top

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