At Nor Cal Vet, sometimes we see and treat a common beach inhabitant known as the sand flea. Sand fleas go by many names, including beach flea, chigoe, sand hopper, and even no-see-ums. The sand flea is not an insect, but a crustacean. Other members of the crustacean family include lobsters and crabs. Sand fleas are about the size of a grain of rice and have wings.
Sand fleas thrive in sandy areas, which is why they are so prevalent at local beaches. This is also why sand fleas are not a common household problem for dogs.
Sand fleas hop, which is how they successfully land on the lower legs, feet and paws of a dog. Because they are a parasite that feeds on blood and skin, once they land on the surface of a dog, they will begin to eat away at the skin, and then burrow themselves beneath the skin to find nourishment. Sand fleas are most active during the morning and early evening hours.
At Nor Cal Vet , we have learned that getting rid of sand fleas is completely different from dog fleas, because sand fleas are more resistant to collars, baths and/or insecticides.
We have also found that, when an infestation occurs, some common symptoms include:
- Black dots where the fleas have burrowed
Other signs of an infestation can include liver and spleen damage, as well as anemia.
Fleas that have burrowed must be removed by a trusted veterinarian, like Nor Cal Vet. Sometimes surgery is required if the flea is deeply embedded into the skin. Left untreated, infection can occur. Following the removal of the flea, antibiotics will be used to prevent further illness. Antihistamines are also often administered to reduce itching. Once a dog has been treated, the itching will usually subside after one week.
The next step in treating sand fleas is to use a pesticide that can help remove any type of reoccurrence of an infestation. This must be followed by:
Cleaning – make sure to wash all your dog’s bedding, cloth toys, and any other items your dog uses. Do this in hot water only.
Vacuuming – make sure to vacuum all your carpets and anywhere else your dog may have sat or taken a nap.
Steam cleaning – the steam in the carpet cleaning will further help eliminate an infestation.
Stay away – avoid beach areas where sand fleas reside. This includes washed up seaweed or other debris.
At Nor Cal Vet we are experts, when it comes to identifying and treating sand fleas. Call us today with any question or concerns at (650) 488-7363 or (415) 413-7363.