Fleas are the most common canine pest. They cause severe itching and allergic reactions, and can even pass on tapeworms. So how can you find and get rid of them before they become a problem?

Diagnosing fleas

First, learn to spot the signs:

- constant scratching;
- dry skin;
- an allergic condition; and
- biting their rear end, tail or inner thigh.

If your dog shows any of these signs you should examine their skin – especially near their tail – and their bed. If they’re infected, you’ll find little clusters of black specks. These are the fleas' droppings. If you want to make sure, drop some into water – the blood in them will stain the water pink.

I think my dog has fleas – what should I do?

Your vet can provide you with a suitable flea treatment that won’t harm your dog. If you have other dogs or a cat, remember to treat them for fleas at the same time.

The actual flea you see will only be a small part of the infestation. The eggs are very difficult to see, so even if you have treated your dog, the carpets and bedding will probably still be housing eggs. You can buy effective household flea sprays from your vet.

As fleas often carry tapeworm larvae, you will need to make sure your dog is treated for worms too.

Treating fleas

Because fleas are such a common problem, there’s now a range of treatment options available. Your choice depends on how your dog reacts to the treatment, the degree of infestation, and which route you'd like to take.

Preventing fleas

You can’t stop your dog picking up fleas. But daily grooming is the best way to catch them early. Use a fine-tooth comb and drown any fleas you find in soapy water.

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