When I got my first dog, a rottweiler, I just kept him outside of our home most of the time, and occasionally I’d be nice and let him into the house to stay with the family. Then in the summer, we’d experience “itchy fits.” These itchy fits were irritating and nasty. After investigating the problem, I found the source of our discomfort was “fleas”!
Oh my gosh! How do I rid fleas from my rottweiler with dark fur? After this experience, I’ve learned ridding fleas could include prescription and non-prescription options in the way of pills, topical treatment, applying flea shampoo, and even special collars. Let me share my process of how to rid fleas from my rottweiler and other alternatives.
What are fleas?
Mature fleas are small, measuring less than an eighth of an inch in width. These little creatures are known to leap and jump, which makes them difficult to capture and remove from your dog’s skin.
These tiny animals feed on the blood of animals (preferably) by attaching themselves to the host’s skin and sucking out the blood. While females are feeding off the dog, it is likely that she is also laying her eggs on that dog. The eggs can number over 2,000 throughout her life and will likely deposit themselves anywhere your dog rests, like in the yard, home, carpets and rugs, clothes, on your beds and furniture.
The lifespan of fleas can be from two months to a year, and even more if not paid attention to. They can thrive in most environments; however, they flourish in warm and humid climates. Knowing this tidbit on flea breeding should give you an urgency to rid these critters.
Where do fleas come from?
A typical source of a flea infestation is from another animal that was infested. That animal could have come in direct contact with you and/or your dog, or it could be an adjacent neighbor’s pet that has infected your environment.
Fleas live best in bushes, shrubbery, and grassy areas just laying in wait for an animal to attach themselves to. From your neighbor’s contaminated environment, the flea could leap to your pet, and lodge themselves to the dog’s limbs, stomach area, and other places your pup would have difficulty reaching with their tongue or paws.
How can I spot them on my dog?
Fleas can easily be seen on any pet, except when the color of the pet’s fur is black or dark. Well, this was my predicament, since my rottweiler has deep black fur.
Fleas are rustic in color, are tiny, and can be seen darting over the skin surface of the dog. They can generally be found in thick hairy areas, and on the belly or underside of the dog. As you perform your flea search ruffling through the dog’s fur, you’ll see the fleas rapidly moving over the skin to seek refuge away from you.
What do I do when I spot them?
I found using a flea comb to give me a greater advantage of locating and removing fleas. A good flea comb is made of metal teeth that are very close together. Combs made with any other material might break as you run them through the thick fur of the dog.
Click this link to view a flea comb I’ve used to rake through my dog’s fur to flush out fleas.
How to rid fleas for good?
Oral (pills) and topical (application on the skin) treatment can speed the ridding and removal of fleas. Products of these forms of treatment might only alleviate the pests in one of the stages in the life-cycle of fleas. Take care that you research each product to ensure you are acquiring the proper medication for your infestation.
The best products can require a prescription, so before you spend any money on flea medicine, consult your veterinarian and have your pet examined. Your vet will prescribe the proper medication for your particular situation.
Here’s a sample of a topical product that can be purchased online along with other prescription medication.
When I sought aid to rid fleas from my rottweiler, I found a huge selection of products available. However, I decided to seek help from my vet before I ventured to the many products online or from pet stores.
I sought advice from my vet for quick and immediate relief for my dog, as well as seeking ways to prevent the return of fleas. My vet recommended a few prescriptions and follow up treatments to kill fleas fast.
There are medications with varying lengths of effectiveness, such as products with:
- Fluralaner: is an ingredient (typically in pill form) that, when ingested, the flea will die after it bites the pet and will continue its effectiveness for up to three months.
- Comfortis: is typically administered monthly and is used specifically to kill fleas.
- Trifexis: is also administered monthly to kill fleas but also inhibits flea infestation.
It’s important to understand the flea life-cycle because medications and treatments cater to the specific stages of the life of the flea. Some treatments will only destroy eggs from hatching, but not the adult flea laying the eggs. Killing the eggs will avert further infestation as long as you practice flea prevention measures.
Anyone living in a warm climate should consider year-round flea treatment for their dog, since fleas flourish in this environment. Consult your veterinarian for confirmation and advice.
You may see flea products advertised to be the “best” treatment for fleas without a veterinarian prescription. The promotions might satisfy your immediate needs; however, take caution as many are not as effective as the vets prescribed products. To mention a few of them:
- Flea shampoos
- Flea powders
- Flea sprays
- Flea collars
I have used shampoos as a supplement and not as a primary or only treatment for fleas. However, there are many great shampoo choices!
I would give my rottweiler a warm bath using a flea shampoo first. Following the bath, I would use a flea comb to remove any live and dead pests. This procedure takes some time to run the fine comb through his thick fur, but I wanted to be sure to get all or at least most of the fleas.
Following the combing, I would bathe the dog again. I would take the time lathering and massaging the shampoo on the dog to comfort him after running the hard comb through his fur.
Because shampooing does not provide long term protection for the dog, I would then follow the recommendations of my vet with prescribed medication and topical treatments.
I would warn you to use caution when shampooing puppies with infestations to use non-toxic shampoos. Some shampoos might be dangerous to their skin if left on for more than five minutes. Read the labels for any warnings.
There are great over-the-counter products, and you’ll make the best judgment when selecting them for your pet. Let me recommend you read the reviews before applying them to your pet.
Know the four life stages of fleas
- Pupae (cocoon)
To best treat your flea infestation, you need to understand the flea life cycle. Knowing the cycle will alert you to the treatment that best alleviates the critters. There are various products and treatments created to attack fleas at each level.
As seen in the diagram, the length of each life cycle varies, and timing is also dependent upon the environmental conditions. The most direct treatment to take would be to kill the adult flea and kill the eggs. Making this the initial priority could slow up the spread of fleas before moving to the next steps of treatment.
Adult female fleas can live for a time, which allows them to nourish themselves and lay a number of eggs daily. Dogs should be confined to one area while treatment is administered because flea eggs can be deposited everywhere the dog resides and travels. These areas where eggs are lodged could include the yard, sleeping areas, carpets, furniture, bedding, and clothing.
Eggs, if they are lodged in various mediums, can grow to the worm-like larvae state. In this condition, the worm can live and grow off organic matter and the feces of adult fleas. It would be recommended to prioritize the eradication of flea eggs.
If you are aware that your infestation is in the pupae stage, you should also know in cocoons; the larvae can stay alive a long time and emerge when conditions are perfect for them. They can detect when a warm host is close by, then arise to leap and attach themselves to the host to complete the life-cycle and start the cycle again.
In short, the entire life cycle of this critter can be as short as 14 days. In this time, the flea count and mount to hundreds, if not thousands, if they are not detected.
Having this knowledge on the life cycle of fleas will allow you to develop a plan to eradicate them. As you determine the degree of infestation, you will know how to treat your dog, what products you should obtain, and investigate how broad the contamination is within the home and the outdoor environment.
Eliminate fleas in the home
Treating the flea-infested home can be a daunting task that may take months. You should start by identifying all the areas your pet has infected. Some of the areas could be:
- Doghouse and crates
Bedding (and any clothing) that’s infected should be washed in warm or hot soapy water or disposed in sealed plastic bags.
Carpets should be thoroughly vacuumed and upon completion, the vacuum bag should be thrown out also in a sealed plastic trash bag. If the vacuum has no bag, be sure the contents are emptied in a trash bag that is sealed before discarding. Consider disinfecting the vacuum collection area also.
You might contemplate having professional carpet cleaners steam clean the carpet along with having it chemically treated to ensure fleas, larvae, and eggs are exterminated.
Hardwood or hard surface flooring can be mopped with a disinfectant. You could choose to dispose of the mop water by flushing it and also disposing of the mop carefully.
The home should now be treated using specific foggers, or boric acid-based products. The specialists recommend using insect growth regulator products that will attack all stages of the flea life cycle. Methoprene or sodium borate products might work best.
When looking for the best sterilizing alternative, you may want to consult professional exterminators to do the job. Based upon the degree of your infestation, eradication can be costly. So, once your home is cleaned, you might step up a prevention treatment right away to keep any future flea exterminating costs down.
Eliminate Fleas in the Environment
Fleas can perish in heat above 95 degrees; however, it is unlikely that you can expose your home, environment, and pet to this temperature as a form of sensible treatment.
Fleas can also stay dormant in the pupae state during winter months just to emerge when the weather warms up. Your eradication plan should consider attacking these critters in the pupae state using the appropriate extermination chemicals and processes.
For complete success to clear the environment, consider treating every animal or pet in your dwelling first, before cleaning the environment.
Depending upon the environment you live in, select the appropriate treatment that could eradicate fleas in both the adult and egg stages immediately. Seek advice and recommendations from your local vet or even pet store experts.
Here is a sample of a yard spray to treat the flea-infested environment.
Some treatment options to clean your yard and other outdoor areas could include sprays and insecticides that contain pyriproxyfen. Pyriproxyfen is an insect growth regulator that inhibits the growth of insects.
Another choice to aid your eradication plan is a food product like Diatomaceous Earth. Diatomaceous Earth is ideal around pets, plants, vegetables, and kids because it’s safe to use.
As always, if you are uneasy about selecting products or doing the work, consult your local exterminating experts.
Prevention and Treatment
Prevention is always the safest treatment when it comes to dealing with fleas.
I remember when I encountered my first flea infestation. I was upset and immediately traced my rottweiler’s recent activities. I was anxious about the entire ordeal. You may react similarly; however, I learned to take a step at a time and follow the processes stated in this reading.
I found my anxiety lessened when I followed a plan, and I placed my focus on performing consistent prevention treatment.
I inspected my dog on a regular basis using a flea comb to manage any infestation at its very early stage (if at all).
I live in a warm climate area so treatment is administered each month all year round. I apply topical treatment monthly, and during the hotter summer months, to rid fleas from my rottweiler, I’d adorn him with a flea and tick collar.
Baths are more frequent in the summer, and we try and make this task fun by using his toys during the bath to distract him.
Here is a sample of flea collars for dogs you might consider using.
Remember, preventative measures are effective after you’ve taken aggressive action to eradicate those nasty fleas first.
Speak to your vet for flea preventative advice that works just for your dog.