Fleas are a major concern for animal owners. The most common parasite on your dog will actually be a CAT flea. Dog fleas (Ctenocephalides canis) are commonly found in Europe, while cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis) are very common to the U.S.
Fleas are blood sucking insects that have well-developed legs for jumping. They have mouth parts that are adapted for sucking blood. "Flea dirt," the black material that you see in association with fleas, is the excretion from the flea. You may see "flea dirt" even if actual fleas are not readily visible. This is a clue of current or recent flea infestation.
Fleas represent a major cause of itching and other skin diseases in dogs and cats. Many pet owners automatically assume that when a dog scratches it has fleas, even if none are observed. This isn’t necessarily the problem — but it’s worthwhile to be careful of them. Many fleas may be present along with dry skin which also causes itching. Due to the dry skin, some itching is likely to continue until the skin health is improved. Don’t assume that a flea bath or dip is a guarantee against itching.
Flea bites lead to an allergic reaction. This is known as "Flea Allergy Dermatitis," and causes intense itching. Because of the nature of the allergic reaction, itching can continue for several days following a successful flea bath.
Fleas feed and live on a dog or cat only 20% of the time. More of their time is spent off the pet than on. Therefore, treating your pet is not enough. You must use chemical controls in the home, yard, and kennel to effectively control fleas.