A pest is defined as a nuisance, an unwanted person, animal or thing. In life, there are many. The door-to-door salesman, endless computer ads for things you neither need nor want, the mall kiosk stalker and perhaps the most annoying of all: the telemarketer who calls on pizza and movie night. In the canine world, little of this matters. In the canine world, no greater pest exists than the dreaded flea.
Pulling into the Bathtub Station
Muffin starts scratching and the battle begins. The fleas have arrived. If Muffin has a boatload of critters crawling through her fur, the tub is the best place to start. Fill the tub with lukewarm water and use a rubber mat to make sure Muffin won't slip. The bath, while necessary, shouldn't cause undue stress to your dog. The fleas are already doing a bang-up job of making her uncomfortable. If you don't have a rubber mat, a towel spread across the bottom of the tub is also effective, but surviving fleas may cling to it and travel out of the bathroom.
The Work Begins
Gently coax Muffin into the bath. Don't drag the dog or force her into the tub. This can cause a lifelong fear of a necessary part of good grooming and care. Offering a dog-friendly treat can promote the bath as a positive experience. Wet the dog's fur and add a flea shampoo. Dawn Dishwashing Liquid also works, but it shouldn't be overused as it can be harsh on Muffin's skin. Soap the dog well, beginning at the head, avoiding the dog's eyes. Separate the fur, and push it into the opposite direction, as fleas nestle deep in the dog's coat. A flea comb can be used to help remove the pests. Examine your dog's coat after the first scrubbing. If lives fleas remain, repeat the process.
The best hint for making a flea bath effective is after care. Without it, your bath-time efforts will prove futile. Fleas can reproduce in the thousands. A female will begin laying eggs 48 hours after first dining on Muffin. The flea bath is a great first step, but it won't stop the problem in its entirety. Take action to keep your dog free of fleas outside the tub. Using a topical flea treatment can help stop the infestation, at least on Muffin, but your home affords a multitude of hiding places for fleas to continue their terror. Foggers, while helpful, won't keep fleas from hard-to-reach places. A spray will allow you to get into those spots such as under furniture and in upholstery.
Fighting the Good Fight
A lighthearted approach to any task may make it easier to face, but fleas are no laughing matter. Fleas cause allergies in your dog, the most common being flea allergy dermatitis, which can cause hot spots and extreme discomfort to your little Muffin. They also transmit tapeworm. Proper treatment of your home and pet is necessary for the health and well being of everyone. For best treatment results, consult your veterinarian.