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How long until fleas go away on dogs?

Fleas in Dogs

Fleas are very adept at jumping from environment, to host, to pets and people. One female flea can produce up to 50 eggs per day, and the eggs will hatch within 2 to 5 days. The larvae feed and crawl around for up to 2 weeks if the environment is suitable (they love humidity) and then build cocoons in which they pupate into adults. With the right temperature, fully formed fleas can potentially survive in their cocoons for up to 12 months. Eradicating an infestation must be done thoroughly in order to get rid of these pests. A loving and readily available veterinarian can help you successfully rid your dog and your home of fleas.

Adult fleas are small wingless parasites that feed on the blood of our pets. Picked up from the surrounding environment, fleas can quickly become a very irritating infestation of biting pests. Their saliva can cause your dog to become extremely itchy. The fact that they can trigger secondary bacterial infections, and can initiate serious skin reactions is a good reason to attend to a flea infestation as soon as you are aware of its existence.

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Symptoms of Fleas in Dogs

Though some of our canine friends may not have a severe reaction or allergy to fleas, many will be extremely uncomfortable and irritated. Your dog may show the following signs listed here.

  • Pruritus (intense itching and licking of the skin)
  • There may be additional rubbing and chewing of the skin
  • Scabbing or redness
  • Skin sores
  • Flea allergic dermatitis (FAD) which is an allergic reaction to the flea saliva
  • Hair loss
  • Restless behavior
  • Visible evidence of fleas scurrying about, particularly in warm areas (between legs and on the belly)
  • Copper colored specks of flea dirt (flea feces to be exact). If you put the specks on a wet paper towel they will turn red; this is digested blood
  • Flea dirt can be found on dog bedding also
  • Pale gums, for example, puppies with a severe infestation can become anemic from loss of blood

There are over 2,500 types of fleas worldwide, of which 94% feed on mammals. Four types of fleas found in North America are listed here.

  • Ctenocephalides felis
    • Known as the cat flea
    • This is the most common type of flea found on dogs in N.A. So dogs who live in multi-pet households are most at risk for fleas
    • This is the most widespread type of flea on earth
    • Affects rodents, raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, opossums, dogs, cats, humans, and other mammals
    • Mostly found on wild animals
    • A study in Georgia, USA found only 24% of fleas found on dogs were of the canis type
    • In northern USA, can be found most often on coyotes, foxes, and wolves
    • Found on ground squirrels and poultry
    • Found on ground squirrels

    Causes of Fleas in Dogs

    Fleas will not only make you and especially your furry family member miserable, but they can also be the cause of tapeworm (when the flea is ingested), flea-borne typhus (carried by feral cats and wild animals that may frequent your yard), cat flea rickettsiosis, and flea allergic dermatitis. Eradicating a flea infestation can be difficult. The veterinarian will be able to advise on how to reduce the risk of flea contraction.

    • Squirrels, rodents, cats, and dogs can drop fleas on the ground, which in turn can jump on your pet
    • Fleas and flea eggs can easily drop on the floors of your house, infecting all members of the household
    • Mice that may make their way into the house can bring in fleas
    • Fleas populate and hatch on furniture and bedding, and when your dog lies there, the flea life cycle continues
    • All life cycles (eggs, larvae, pupae and flea) must be eliminated from your home environment
    • Dog runs, dog houses, and kennels can all harbour fleas
    • Up to 95% of any flea burden live off the pet, meaning we need to focus treatment on the home too

    Diagnosis of Fleas in Dogs

    If you see your dog itching his skin and generally looking uncomfortable, you can check for fleas. Better yet, visit the animal clinic and the veterinarian will definitively diagnose a flea infestation. After discussing your pet’s recent medical history and travel of late, the veterinarian will examine your canine family member to look for signs of skin irritation and flea bites. She will also know exactly where to check for fleas, in the warm areas of your dog’s body. The veterinary caregiver may also use a flea comb that will easily remove flea dirt. The flea feces, when placed on a wet paper towel, will turn coppery red, confirming the presence of fleas.

    The veterinarian may choose to do skin testing to eliminate other causes of itching, and to confirm if your pet has flea allergic dermatitis as well.

    Treatment of Fleas in Dogs

    For effective flea elimination, carefully follow the advice of the veterinary care team. Noncompliance with instructions is one of the main reasons that fleas can seem impossible to get rid of. It will be difficult, there is no denying that. It can be done, though, with the proper tools and diligent attitude.

    The first place the veterinarian will tell you to start is with treatment for your dog. The following methods may be used for flea eradication and control.

    • Flea shampoo might be recommended. The shampoo will kill the fleas on the body, and you will see them fall out of the fur as you rinse your dog. Once the shampoo has been rinsed, the effect quickly wears off. Therefore, shampoo is best used in combination with another product.
    • Topical liquids are usually the treatment of choice. They take just a few hours to start working and are very effective. Prescription products tend to be most effective.
    • Insect development inhibitors (IDI) may be administered orally. There are also injectable products that can be used.
    • Most flea collars and powders are much less effective than the treatments discussed above. A new collar called ‘Seresto’ is very effective and offers months of protection.
    • The veterinarian may prescribe medication to control skin irritation and soothe the itch.
    • Keep the veterinary caregiver informed of the progress and be sure to contact her if you are concerned about the potential side effects of medications, liquids, or any aspect of the treatment.

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    Recovery of Fleas in Dogs

    We have discussed the treatment for your canine buddy, and the fact that treatment must start with your pet. Equally important is the treatment that must be continued once you return home from the clinic.

    Your home environment must be dealt with immediately after your pet has been treated, and if possible, do not bring your dog inside until the house has been cleaned and sanitized, and the flea eliminating product has been applied. Be certain to treat all household pets.

    The veterinarian will discuss the best options for the home with you. Choices may be a residual pesticide, or a product that is shorter lasting but requires more applications. Areas that will need attention are cracks in the floors, bedding, furniture, closets, and under baseboards and heaters.

    House Sprays containing Insect growth regulators are products used to prevent the fleas from reproducing and completing the life cycle. The IGR’s provide residual protection and need to be applied less often. They have low toxicity and are safe for use around animals and children,

    Hot wash your dog’s bedding several times over the next weeks and months. (An infestation may take between six weeks and three months to eliminate.) Vacuum daily, taking care to remove the vacuum bag, placing it in a sealed bag which must be thrown in the outside trash.

    The veterinary care team may recommend using products outdoors as well, in your pet’s favorite areas. You can discuss with the veterinary specialist whether this is necessary. Without question, keep your yard neat and clean, in hopes of making it less attractive to flea carrying wild animals who may be looking for food or a place to nest.

    With the help of the veterinarian, you can rid your dog and home of fleas. Use only veterinarian approved products for efficacy and safety. Prevention is a wise decision for the future. Speak to the veterinarian about recommendations to prevent fleas, ticks, and heartworm in one easy product.

    Cost of Fleas in Dogs

    Apply a prescription flea medication on the back of their neck, out of licking range. These medications are based on the age and weight of your pet, the brand you choose, and how many tubes you need. There are a variety of options for your pets ranging in price from $50 to $100 per box.

    Next, treat your house and yard. A good cleaning top to bottom and extensive vacuuming will help. Use a carpet spray which sells for $15 to $30 per bottle at most pet stores for your carpets and furniture where the eggs will be hiding.

    Treat your yard with a spray to help stop the fleas at the source. The Advantage brand is a bargain at $20 to $28 per container.

    Paying for your pet’s routine shots, bloodwork, and flea treatments can be difficult to budget for. Fortunately, Wag! Wellness plans reimburse routine care costs for your pet within 24 hours. In the market for wellness plans? Compare wellness plans to find the right match for your pet!

    How Long Does It Take for Fleas to Die after Treatment?

    A calico enjoying petting from owner

    When you discover fleas on your pet, it’s only natural to want to get rid of the blood-sucking parasites as soon as possible. Not only are they causing your dog or cat discomfort, but they could also lead to a dreaded flea infestation in your home. The good news is that there are lots of products available that will help you get rid of the itchy pests. This guide gives you an idea of how quickly fleas die after treatment, and looks at other factors to consider when choosing the right flea treatment for your pet.

    How Long Does It Take for Flea Treatment to Work?

    Fleas are extremely mobile and reproduce rapidly, so taking back control and getting on top of the problem can take time. Getting rid of fleas often involves treating both your pet and your home.

    Flea control products for pets come in a variety of forms including topicals, flea collars, tablets and sprays. They use various active ingredients to kill fleas, which means they all work slightly differently. The time it takes for products to kill fleas varies depending on the product used.

    Topicals and Collars

    Imidacloprid is an active ingredient in some topicals and collars that spreads throughout your pet’s skin and coat to kill fleas through contact; this means fleas don’t have to bite your pet to be killed. 1 Other flea products, such as oral flea tablets, utilize ingredients that are active in the bloodstream; while there are many effective flea treatment options, how quickly products kill fleas can vary, so it’s always best to refer to the product’s label. Reducing the chance of flea bites by killing fleas on contact, however, helps to protect your pet against discomfort and irritation.

    Along with imidacloprid, some flea collars also contain flumethrin, which repels and kills ticks. Imidacloprid also kills flea larvae in the home environment — in carpets and pet bedding, for example — helping to break the flea life cycle.

    Flea Shampoos

    Flea treatment can also come in the form of a flea shampoo, which is applied directly to your dog or cat’s coat. Although shampooing your pet might feel like an immediate solution for banishing fleas, keep in mind that it doesn’t offer long-term protection. Bathing your pet with a flea treatment shampoo kills fleas on them at the time of bathing, so they’ll be at risk of re-infestation after the shampoo has been rinsed away. Flea shampoos are a great way to kill fleas on your pet quickly, but be sure to follow your pet’s bath with a longer-term preventive flea treatment.

    Household Flea Sprays

    By the time you spot a flea on your pet, there could be a few generations of new fleas in your home. The female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day, with these eggs hatching into flea larvae in your home and burrowing into carpets, sofas, your pet’s bedding and anywhere else your pet goes. After a period of time, these larvae hatch into new fleas ready to bite your pet and start the cycle all over again. Treating your home, as well as your pet, is an important part of getting on top of a flea infestation.

    Once you’ve cleaned your house by vacuuming and washing bedding, use a special household flea treatment to help break the flea life cycle. These handheld sprays can help you pay particular attention to places flea eggs, larvae and pupae like to hide, such as under beds and furniture or in carpet and upholstery.

    Always follow the instructions on the can and treat your home thoroughly — fleas really can get anywhere! The time it takes to remove fleas from your home will depend on the level of infestation you have. In some cases, it can take several months to get rid of them completely. Persistence is key.

    I’ve Treated My Pet and My Home, So Why Am I Still Finding Fleas?

    It’s frustrating to spot a flea on your pet or flea dirt in your pet’s coat after the time and effort it took to treat your pet and thoroughly de-flea your home.

    The best advice is to give it time. Once a flea infestation begins, it can take a while to completely clear it. Flea larvae can remain dormant in your home for months, so new fleas may continue to emerge — even after treatment. These fleas will quickly die after hatching if you’ve treated your home and kept up with regular flea preventive for your pet, but it can take a while for all the existing fleas to hatch and be killed.

    It’s also worth remembering that no flea treatment forms a force field to stop fleas from jumping onto your pets — but an effective treatment will quickly kill fleas once they come into contact with your pet. Once you’ve gotten on top of an infestation, keeping up with regular flea treatment will help to make sure your pet and your home stay protected.

    1. Mehlhorn et al. Parasitol Res (2001) 87:198-207, information is regarding mode of action and is not intended to relate to speed of kill or to imply parasites can be completely stopped from biting.
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