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Dog Fleas – your questions answered

What are dog fleas?

The dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis) is a species of flea that dwells primarily on the blood of dogs. The dog flea is troublesome because it can spread tapeworm.

Why do they live on dogs?

Dog fleas feed on the blood of dogs and cats, they sometimes bite humans. They can live without food for several months, but female dog fleas must have a blood meal before they can produce eggs. They can deliver about 4000 eggs on the host’s fur. The eggs go through four lifecycle stages: embryo, larva, pupa, and imago (adult). This whole life cycle from egg to adult flea takes from two to three weeks, although this depends on the temperature. It may take longer in cool conditions.

How can I tell if my dog has dog fleas?

When dogs are troubled by fleas they scratch and bite themselves especially in areas such as the head, neck, and around the tail. Fleas normally concentrate in such areas. This incessant scratching and biting may cause the dog’s skin to become red and inflamed, or in extreme cases, bold areas can develop. Most often you can see fleas by combing your dog with a fine flea comb (see products below), but if you are in doubt, there is a quick test you can carry out:

  1. Sit your dog on a large piece of news paper.
  2. Vigorously scratch and rub your dogs back and neck area.
  3. Collect the rubbings together, then dab with moist cotton wool and leave for a minute or so.
  4. Now inspect the cotton wool, looking for red spots. These are flea faeces, which are not easy to distinguish when dry, but show up when slightly moistened.

How can I treat dog fleas?

To fully get rid of fleas and flea eggs, you need to treat not only dogs but also the household and exterior regions to eliminate eggs from bedding, grass, floor, furniture and other areas. Flea treatments are generally divided into the following categories:

  • Spot-on treatments
    Spot-on flea products are applied to the pet. A few drops are placed on the scruff of the neck, under the fur. Most spot-on products contain adulticides designed to eliminate adult fleas from the pet within 24 hours of application. They have the benefit of being fast and effective, and easy to apply. To tackle fleas around the house, a ‘house hold spray’ (see below) treatment would also need to be used.
  • Oral Dog Flea Treatments
    Orally administered products can be used to eliminate both adult fleas on the pet, and flea eggs laid around the house. When a pet is treated with an oral insect growth regulator, it circulates in the animal’s bloodstream. Then, if a flea bites the pet, it ingests the insect growth regulator and passes it on to its eggs, rendering them unable to hatch.

    With these products, you can have confidence that even if you do see adult fleas on your pet, they will be unable to infest your house with flea eggs. This removes the need to spray insecticides around your house, and makes them ideally suited for preventative flea control.

  • Household Flea Sprays
    These should only really be used in conjunction with one of the other two methods. Use these products to spray the rooms your dog occupies, particularly areas with carpets or soft furnishings.


Fleas are stubborn parasites, mainly because they reproduce at such a prolific rate. Here are a few tips that should see them off for good:

Treat all cats and dogs in your house
Always treat all cats and dogs in your house, even if some animals are not showing any symptoms of having fleas.

In most cases, flea infestations should clear within a few days. However, flea eggs laid around your home can survive in the carpet for up to 9 months. During this time, they can hatch and jump back aboard the pet whatever treatment you use. This doesn’t mean that the product you are using isn’t working. Just that the existing infestation is clearing.

If you treat the pets correctly, you needn’t spray the house That’s right. It’s because all fleas will jump on your cat or dog as part of their life cycle. So if you have treated the cat or dog, they’ll die out when they come into contact with the animal. This process won’t be hastened by treating the carpets.

To hasten flea removal from the home
You can hasten removal of fleas by raising the temperature and humidity in the house to encourage fleas to hatch faster, whereupon they’ll leap onto the pet, be exposed to the insecticide, and die out.