Fleas are small wingless insects, which move by leaping from area to area, body to body, and can infest the coats or skin of nearly any mammal. They feed off the blood of their host, which they drain through small bites.
Fleas multiply rapidly and spread over the whole surface of the animal’s body. The most obvious symptom is usually an intense itchting sensation, leading the dog to vigorously lick or bite at his skin. As a result of a heavy flea load, an allergic reaction may occur, and this can lead to further skin problems.
Fleas are transmitted by direct contact with an infected animal. Different flea species are known to prefer specific hosts, however they can perform a "host-switch" if necessary, regardless of their preference. Watch out, as humans may also be affected! If you have treated your dog for fleas, an infection is unlikely, yet not impossible.
If a flea eczema has developed, the condition will have to be treated accordingly with the proper medication. Fleas can be seen by the naked eye. They are most easily found between the hairs of the animal’s lower back or the flanks. One way to find fleas is to bush these areas coat against the grain of the hair. After doing this, the fleas will then appear as small brown spots trying to escape out of the exposed area, and run for cover in the safety of the dense coat. Regarding treatment, most common anti-parasitic agents will kill fleas. In the case of a heavy infestation, it is often more effective to use a body spray rather than spot-on products, and thoroughly spray all parts of the body—while AVOIDING the animal’s eyes! After spraying the anti-parasitic onto the animal’s body, while wearing disposable gloves, work the fluid into the animal’s coat. Again, please use disposable gloves when doing so.
If you have noticed any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should consult with your vet within the next couple of days and arrange for an appointment. The patient should be immediately separated from other animals, especially inside the household. Please inform your vet in advance about your visit so that ample preparations can be made to prevent the infection of other animals. Any additional pets in your household, dogs, cats, or any other animal, should also be treated, even if they show no symptoms.