Dog Care – Checking for Fleas

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 32,803
    Dr. Candy Olson demonstrates how to care for dogs and check dogs for fleas.

    Candy Olson

    Dr. Candy Olson graduated from veterinary school in 1978, and has been working as a small animal veterinarian ever since. She started her own practice, Greenbriar Animal Hospital, in Fairfax, Virginia in 1993 with a goal to providing a very personal level of service, like an old fashioned family doctor’s office. The hospital has grown into a busy 2 doctor practice with a full time dog and cat groomer. The practice and Dr. Olson have received several awards for top quality service to her patients and their owners, but what she enjoys the most is fine tuning the day to day care of her patients, and helping their owners cope with medical and behavioral issues that pop up in today’s lifestyles. Dr. Olson is particularly interested in the care of geriatric pets and in pets with multiple medical and/or behavioral problems. She keeps her veterinary knowledge current by reading more than 8 veterinary journals every month, and by attending more than 80 hours of continuing education meetings each year (Virginia requires 15 hours per year). She also serves as a mentor for student veterinary technicians and high school students interested in veterinary medicine. Her hobbies include gardening, travel, and photography (photography is an extended family hobby). Some of her photos and some of her family’s photos are framed and on display at the animal hospital.

    Hi! I'm Dr. Candy Olson, the owner of Greenbriar Animal Hospital. We're shooting a series of video clips on how to take care of your dog at home. This is Tuffy Lee, she is going to be helping us out with this section which is all about how to check your dog for fleas. Now, Tuffy doesn't have fleas. She is on good flea prevention control but just so that you're aware, one of the issues with fleas is that they are very tiny. They move very fast and in fact they jump, fleas can easily jump from here, all the way over to there. So, if you actually see a flea on your pet, oh, you're in trouble, there is lots more, probably thousands more because most of the time you won't actually ever see fleas. This little tiny spot there, that's a big fat adult flea in real life size. They are very tiny. What you're much more likely to see or to find to what we call flea dirt which is flea poop, dry blood, fleas suck blood, that's what they eat, gets processed and goes on through and you get these little black dark specks that you think, Jee, I wonder, that's just a dirt and so what you would get is, it's little specks like you have on this piece of paper here and you can choose a good way to check and see it that really just dirt or is it flea dirt and I'll show you in a minute.

    One of the best ways to check for fleas is to just feel, and so if you're doing just a light massage like this, if there is any of this flea dirt stuff, it's going to fall off, if you're doing this. You don't even really have to see it, that's place to do this, is on something light colored like this piece of paper even on a sheet and now so you can see if you get a bunch of the stuff of, you can also use this kind of comb, and goes through the skin occasionally, you'll actually catch a flea in this but you can do the same kind of thing if you're just combing through her coat and what can happen is go like this and you'll get some of these little specks here. So, if you get these little specks and you're thinking well, I didn't see a flea, she was just out in the yard, but she just rolled in the dirt and that's some dirt. Well, the way you check that, is spray a little bit of water. When it sits for a few seconds and if it's just dirt, it's going to be brown, maybe black and just sit there. If it's flea dirt because it's a blood product it's going to turn red and you'll be able to tell, yeah, that really is fleas and the fleas lay eggs and the eggs hatch into larva, which hatch into adults and everything -- it's a fairly complicated life cycle but it's very important to keep on top of it, so you can see that you now have little red streaks there. So, that's definitely blood product that is fleas and so that's a good way to tell for sure. The important thing about fleas and dogs is that dogs are very prone to pick up fleas and fleas carry disease. So, you really want to make sure that your dog is protected against fleas. It's different in different areas. Here in Northern Virginia the flea season is from about the 1st of April till -- we have a good hard frost usually November, December. It's different in different areas but it's very important to make sure your dog is protected even if your dog doesn't normally go, spend a lot of time outside it can still pick up fleas. So, the best prevention is to have them on a monthly flea protection so that you don't have to worry about it. So next we're going to go over how do you check your dog for ticks.