If you see a flea on your Chihuahua, it's important to take immediate action to treat and prevent them from coming back. Although they are most commonly found in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa, dog and cat fleas can still be found year-round in warmer regions of the U.S. The problem is that many owners don't even know their Chihuahua has fleas until an infestation has begun. Their small size and stealth-like behavior allows them to go unnoticed while they feast on the blood of your tiny canine companion. Here we'll take a look at some of the most effective ways to both treat and prevent fleas in your Chihuahua.
Many Chihuahua owners are under the assumption that there's only a single type of flea. The truth is, however, that there are over 2,000 species worldwide, 200 of which are located inhabit the U.S. While they may look and act the same, there are some distinct differences between the species. No matter what type of flea is infesting your Chihuahua, you need to treat them in a timely manner; otherwise, they will reproduce and grow to numbers that are difficult to control.
Think you know everything about fleas? Think again. Take a look at some of these interesting statistics and facts about fleas:
- Prehistoric fossils reveal fleas to have been around 100 million years ago during the Cretaceous period.
- A single female can leave over 2,000 eggs in their lifetime.
- The average flea will bite into their host several hundred times a day. If a Chihuahua is infested with just 10 fleas, that's thousands of bites each day!
- Fleas prefer warmer temperatures, but they can still live in near-freezing regions when necessary.
- Fleas live approximately 3 months before dying.
- Because of their powerful back legs, fleas can launch over 10 inches into the air, which is why they are so difficult to pick off a small Chihuahua.
Why Fleas are Dangerous To Chihuahuas
Unfortunately, a lot of owners brush off a flea infestation as something that's minor and not of a serious concern. While it may only look like it causes an occasional itching, fleas are much more troubling. Fleas are considered parasites because they bite into their host (your Chihuahua) to drink their blood, which they typically do about 300-400 times per day. As a result of being constantly bitten throughout the day, some Chihuahuas will obsessively lick and clean themselves to try and eliminate their fleas, but this usually doesn't work. An infested Chihuahua will remain covered in fleas until the owner steps in to remove them.
To make matters worse, some Chihuahuas are allergic to the saliva in fleas' mouths, which causes them to chew and scratch the hair off their body. In some of the more severe cases, Chihuahuas will even chew the skin off their body, leaving open wounds that are susceptible to infection. In addition to traditional flea treatments, you'll have to place a cone over your Chihuahua to keep them from causing further injury to their body.
Possibly the most serious issue associated with fleas is their ability to transmit harmful parasites and diseases, such as Rickettsia typhi, Bartonella hensalae, hemoplasmas, Flea Tyhus and even the Bubonic Plague! Some of these harmful pathogens are even transmittable to humans, so keep your Chihuahua out of your bed if they're infested with fleas.
Treating Your Chihuahua's Fleas
The first step in treating fleas in your Chihuahua is to understand and identify their breeding grounds. If you see fleas on your Chihuahuas skin, they're probably burrowed in other parts of your home, and it's up to you to find out where. Think about where your dog spends their time napping and resting and clean these areas. If your Chihuahua has a bed or crate filled with blankets, take these items out and wash them using warm water and a small amount of bleach. Also, it's not uncommon for fleas to lay their eggs in the carpet and on rugs. When your Chihuahua has a flea infestation, try to get into the habit of vacuuming the floors daily to help remove eggs that could possibly be lingering there.
Giving your Chihuahua plenty of baths is also helpful in reducing the amount of fleas and flea eggs infesting their body. Don't just use any dog shampoo, but instead look for one that's made specifically to treat fleas in small dogs. Hertz sells a couple different products that many owners have had success using. Just be sure to follow the directions step-by-step to ensure your Chihuahua is safe and comfortable during their bath. As you bath them in the water, it's also a good idea to keep a cup of soapy warm water nearby to place any fleas you pick off your Chihuahua in. The soapy water should drown them, as they won't be able to jump out.
When your Chihuahua is done bathing and you've given them plenty of time to dry off, you should go over their coat with a flea comb. These combs and can be purchased from most major pet stores for as little as $5 bucks and are designed to pull out both fleas and their eggs. Just keep another cup of warm soapy water nearby and occasionally dip the comb in it to remove any fleas you've picked off them.
If you want to go one step further, you can fill a spray bottle with a mixture of vinegar and water and spray your Chihuahua's coat down with it. The highly acidic content of vinegar won't bother your Chihuahua (just keep it out of their eyes), but fleas seem to hate it.
Severe Flea Infestations
Depending on how severe your Chihuahua's flea infestation is, using the traditional methods listed above mat not be enough. If you can't seem to get rid of all their fleas, or if they come back in a few days, you'll need to take a different approach to these treating these horrific parasites. Hands down, one of the strongest and most effective flea medicines for dogs is a product called Frontline. According to their official website, Frontline is also the #1 choice of flea and tick treatment by veterinarians. So, why is this product so popular and effective? Unlike other flea medications, Frontline kills fleas at all stages of their life (eggs, larvae, pupae). Once it's applied to their skin, it will begin to kill the fleas in as little as 12 hours.