My dog has bad fleas. How do I get rid of them?
Hello, I have a seven-month-old Pit Bull/Beagle cross. He has really bad fleas. I've tried flea collars, flea baths, tea tree oil... and now he's chewing his back by the base of his tail like crazy, and he's starting to get dime-sized scabby things. HELP.
I have good news for you. Taking care of your dog's flea problem will be simple.
As you have learned, flea collars, flea combs, area treatments (flea bombs), Advantage knock-offs, and most over-the-counter products simply are no match for fleas.
However, several new products are available that are extremely safe and effective. My favorites are Advantage (real Advantage) and Frontline, but Revolution, Capstar, and Program also are very good. For a flea infestation as severe as yours, you may want to combine a topical medication that kills adult fleas, such as Advantage or Frontline, with Program, which helps to keep fleas from reproducing in your house. You may have to treat your pet for several months to eliminate the problem while new fleas hatch from eggs that have already been laid on your floor and furniture.
Fleas cause great misery in pets. Your dog's symptoms are very typical of flea allergy reactions in both dogs and cats. However, things could get much worse. In my practice, I have seen fleas cause or contribute to tapeworms, ringworm, autoimmune disease, asthma, feline infectious anemia, eosinophilic granulomas, "psychogenic" alopecia, behavior changes, and death. That's right, I have seen both dogs and cats die from heavy flea infestations. Fleas are not just a nuisance. They are a serious health threat.
In case that's not motivation enough for you to get serious about eliminating your pet's fleas, you should know that in people fleas are known to spread bartonella (which is often, incorrectly, called "cat scratch fever"--it's actually spread by fleas), typhus, and the bubonic plague. That's right, fleas wiped out a third of the population of Europe in the dark ages.
Fleas deserve no mercy. Buy a good flea product and take care of the problem.