If you’ve ever had a dog and they have had fleas, you know just how nasty and horrible the little creatures are. But, can dog fleas live on humans? Yes, they can, but the good news is they don’t want to.
Can Dog Fleas Live on Humans?
While a dog flea might jump on you and take a bite, it isn’t going to stick around for long.
Dog fleas like dogs.
They don’t like humans or human blood and will look for a more suitable host once they have bitten you.
Lucky for us, we don’t taste very good to them and they don’t see us as a good food source.
But, your poor dog can be eaten alive if you’re not careful and get their flea situation under control quickly.
The Dangers of Fleas for You and Your Dog
Adult fleas can do a great deal of damage.
If you’ve heard of the Black Plague that killed off about a third of Europe’s population you know what I mean.
Of course, those weren’t dog fleas. They were the human fleas, but you get my point.
There are actually about 2,000 different kinds of fleas, but you don’t have to worry about coming in contact with most of them.
Even on the less severe end of the spectrum, fleas can cause the following flea-borne diseases in humans and dogs:
1. Allergies – It is possible that when a flea bites you, it will cause an allergic reaction.
This can include an infection or at least irritated skin, itchy bites, and even hives.
Dogs can also be allergic to fleas.
My Truman is allergic to them and if he is bitten by them he will scratch incessantly and even pull out his hair.
My other Shih Tzu, Sammy, isn’t allergic to them and barely seems to notice if a flea bites her.
You may be wondering how I know this.
No, I don’t leave my dogs untreated for fleas.
I use all the latest flea medicines that vets offer.
However about ten years ago when I lived in South Carolina there was a major flea outbreak.
Fleas tend to be worse in the warmer states because it doesn’t get cold enough in the winter to kill most of them off.
It has to be below freezing, 32 degrees Fahrenheit day and night for at least 7 days to kill most fleas.
I say most because there are fleas living on livestock and wild animals that are plenty warm and live through the winter.
So, in South Carolina, you never have a whole week where the temperatures don’t get above freezing, so you start out the warm month with fleas already around and looking to party.
This particular year was really bad.
Add to that, the topical flea medicine that I was using no longer worked.
It wasn’t that it didn’t work just for me, many people were having this issue.
The fleas had grown a tolerance for it.
And while my dogs were treated, they and my house were quickly overrun by fleas.
Long story short – I know too late – it took me 2 months to get rid of all the fleas off my dogs and out of my house.
I ended up having to change flea medicines several times to get one that would work.
Then I had to bomb my house and treat my entire yard.
It was kind of a nightmare.
Interestingly enough, I don’t think I was ever bitten by a flea the whole time.
But my poor dogs did suffer until I finally got it under control.
2. Risk of Tapeworm Infection
As if the flea itself isn’t bad enough, infected fleas can carry tapeworms.
Both you and your dog can get tapeworms from fleas.
Although you do have to ingest a flea for it to happen.
It is more likely that your dog would do so or possibly a young child, but it is still a possibility.
While tapeworms aren’t deadly or anything, you do need to go to your doctor or take your dog to the vet if you notice any signs of them.
The easiest way to determine if you or your dog has a tapeworm is to look for a white seed-like object in your or their feces.
Getting Rid of Fleas
While it seems like it should be pretty easy to get rid of fleas, it isn’t.
These little buggers are tough.
Flea larva can actually live up to a year just waiting for a host.
And while many people think fleas jump from one dog to another or one person to another that’s not actually the case.
The flea stays on its preferred host where it is nice and warm and gets a juicy blood meal whenever it wants, but their flea eggs and larva fall off the host onto the floor or bedding or anywhere really.
When the flea is in the larva stage it will lay in wait until a host walks by.
It is the vibrations from the movement that attracts the flea it will then jump on the host.
If a dog flea happens to jump onto a human it will take a bite but then jump back off looking for a more preferred target.
Also, it can take fleas about two months to go through their lifecycle, so getting rid of them can be an ongoing process once you start having issues in your home.
So, how do you get rid of fleas?
It is a bit of a dance.
You need to get them off your dogs, but at the same time, you need to get them out of your house.
It can be tricky.
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Your vet can help with the dog part.
Talk to them about the most up-to-date flea medicines and get your dog on the treatment right away.
If you chose a topical treatment, consider giving them a flea bath first with flea shampoo.
Be sure to leave the shampoo on your dog for 10 minutes or so.
When drying them also use a flea comb.
Then follow your vet’s instructions on applying the flea medication.
At the same time, you will need to clean your house.
- Washing all pet beds and toys using hot water
- Washing all of your sheets and your bedding in hot water
- Vacuum all of your furniture, drapes, rugs, carpet, and any soft furnishings
- Use a pet-friendly insecticide or flea control product on your baseboards as well as areas where your dog sleeps.
- Spray an outdoor, pet-friendly insecticide on your yard – that includes bushes
Keep in mind, this process will most likely need to be repeated several times.
That’s why I finally bombed my house to get the job completely done, but be careful if you go this route.
Read the instructions carefully because you can end up blowing up your house.
If all else fails call a professional exterminator.
Honestly, the best way to get rid of fleas is to never let them on your dog or in your house to begin with.
Stay current with your dog’s flea medicine and take quick action if the medication doesn’t seem to be working.
Flea infestations can happen before you know it.
Fleas will multiply exponentially very quickly, so you don’t have a lot of time to act.
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To Sum it All Up:
Fleas are nasty and a threat to you and your dogs and you never know what kind of reaction to flea bites your dog may have. While dog fleas don’t like humans that doesn’t mean they won’t bite you, and they will make life for your dog a living nightmare. Do what you can to keep them off your dog and out of your house. You’ll be happy you did.
This article is informational only and does not substitute for veterinary advice. Always check with your veterinarian if you are concerned about your Shih Tzu. This article should not be considered in any way as veterinarian advice.