There are few things more irritating than fleas. When they have infested your Australian Shepherd’s thick, double coat – forget about it! Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem. Here is what you need to know about dealing with the problem.
An Important Announcement for Australian Shepherd Owners
Before going any further, you should be aware that some Australian Shepherds have the MDR1 gene. This makes them more sensitive to various medications such as the ones used to kill parasites.
As a result, you shouldn’t use any over-the-counter medications or treatments without speaking to your vet first. If your dog has this gene, the negative effects can be quite severe, compromising your dog’s health.
In general, you should talk to your vet about any flea medications or collars as they can either be quite toxic or powerful. A medical professional will be the best person to determine whether any particular product may do more harm than good.
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Getting Rid of Fleas on Your Australian Shepherd
Here are the steps you should follow to get a handle on the problem:
Step 1: Use a Flea Comb
The first thing you will need to do is invest in a flea comb. Other combs or brushes will not do the trick – a flea comb has thinly spaced teeth that make it easier for you to brush out the tiny critters. The good news is that these combs are readily available.
Keep a bucket of warm, soapy water near you. As you comb the fleas out, dunk the comb in the water and make sure that they get washed. Don’t attempt to squash the fleas or kill them any other way.
Fleas are incredibly quick and can easily jump. Therefore, it is important to dunk the comb in the water immediately.
Then, it is time for you to strategically comb out your dog. Start from their head and move downwards. Focus on a small patch, comb it out thoroughly and then move out onto the next section.
Be especially careful around the neck and stomach – wherever your dog has the most amount of fur. Take your time in these areas and go over them several times. If you miss even a few, the infestation can start up again.
Step 2: Bathe Your Dog
Once you have done your due diligence with the comb, it is time to bathe your aussie. It can be tempting to use shampoos specifically meant for fleas, but be aware that these can be quite harsh on the skin.
If your dog already has sensitive skin, they may be more prone to developing allergies or skin irritation. Once again, it is a good idea to run any potential product past a vet. They can give you a better idea about whether it is safe and actually effective. For the most part, though, a regular dog shampoo will do the trick.
When washing your pup, make sure that all their fur is completely soaked. Remember, this can be tricky with double coated dogs like Australian Shepherds, so take your time to ensure that they are washed right to the skin.
Once again, pay special attention to the neck, stomach, tail, and anywhere else that there is a lot of fur.
Step 3: Use the Flea Comb Again
This step isn’t necessary, but it can give you peace of mind and guarantee that the fleas are truly gone from your dog.
After your pooch has dried off, use the flea comb to go through their coat again. Use the same level of attention to detail as you did the first time around. Watch out for any dark colored spots or anything that may look like dirt.
Don’t bathe your dog again, as washing them too much can irritate their skin.
How to Treat Flea Allergy Dermatitis
It is possible for your dog to be allergic to flea saliva which is introduced when fleas bite your dog. Some of the symptoms to watch out for are:
- Reddened skin under the fur
- Missing patches of fur
- Continued, furious biting, scratching, or rubbing of the skin
- Infected sores typically found near hind quarters and tail
Of course, for a positive identification, you will need to visit a vet. It is a good idea to do this the moment you notice the above symptoms. This condition can cause a great deal of discomfort to your dog.
If your pooch is diagnosed with flea allergy dermatitis, your vet may give you a soothing shampoo for the skin. Or, you may have to give your pooch steroids to stop the itching or antibiotics to treat or prevent an infection.
Getting the Infestation Under Control
Unfortunately, getting the fleas off of your dog is only half the battle! If fleas have been on your dog, then it means your home is probably infested as well. So, you should carry out the following solutions:
Clean and Dry All Your Dogs Belongings
The first thing you should do is put your pup’s bed, blankets, toys, and other fabric-related item into the wash. Wash it on the hot cycle. You may want to do this twice, depending on the severity of the infestation.
Then, put these things in the dryer. Choose the hottest temperature possible. This will certainly help to kill any remaining fleas.
Clean and Dry All Fabrics in Your Home
Anything that your dog may have brushed up against may now be home to an infestation. This includes sofas, carpets, curtains, pillows, blankets, etc.
Remember that fleas can also hitch a ride on your clothes and so, it is important to thoroughly clean your bedding as well.
Once again, wash on the hot cycle and dry on the highest possible temperature.
Naturally, there will be some things that you can’t wash, so you will need to thoroughly vacuum these instead.
Do it several times to ensure you will have gotten most or all the fleas out. Remember to remove the bag from the cleaner and to wash it in very hot water. Put it out to dry in the hot sun.
Using Commercial Products
If the infestation is pretty severe, then you may have to resort to products such as flea bombs or more potent products. In case you have to use these, it is a good idea to have your pooch stay at someone else’s home for a day or two.
These products can be incredibly toxic and it isn’t something that you want your dog to be around.
If you are going to be keeping your pooch at home, make sure to remove them from the premises for several hours. Also pack up any toys, food, food bowls, water bowls, bedding, etc. and remove it from the house as well.
How to Prevent Future Infestations
With fleas, prevention is the best treatment. It can be incredibly difficult to get rid of them once they have entered your home and it can become a vicious cycle.
Here are some of the things you can do to prevent an infestation in the first place:
Check Your Dog Regularly
Get into the habit of checking your dog for fleas every time you go out. This is especially important during summer, peak flea season. Also, if you have been hiking or any area with lots of trees or vegetation, checks are a must.
Keep a flea comb outside and use it to carefully comb out your pooch after such an outing. If you don’t want to be so thorough, then you can just use your hands to part their fur. Still, keep a close eye on anything that may look remotely like fleas.
Consider Preventative Treatments
You should also speak to your vet about preventative treatments. From chews to collars, there is a whole host of options available to you and your dog. Your vet will be able to decide which one is best and safest for your pooch.
These treatments can mean that you don’t have to be quite so meticulous when you go to dog parks or other areas where your dog may get infected.
Of course, it is still important to check them when you come back from hikes.
Don’t Ignore Early Warning Signs
Remember to pay attention to any early warning signs. If you notice that your pup is scratching themselves or nipping at their skin even occasionally, this is a sign that it’s time to use a flea comb.
This can seem like you are being overly cautious, but the last thing you want is for the infestation to spread any further. Catching it when there are only a few fleas on your pup can save your dog discomfort and you a great deal of hassle.
This is your complete guide to getting rid of fleas on your Australian Shepherd. Follow these steps and you should get the problem under control in no time at all. However, remember that your focus should be on prevention overall.
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