Can fleas really give my dog the plague?

Can fleas really give my dog the plague?

The plague wiped out millions of people in the Middle Ages, but did you know it still exists as a threat to both humans and animals today? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the bacterium known as Yersinia pestis is transmitted by none other than fleas, the pesky insects that make your dog itchy and uncomfortable. While modern medicine can be used to combat the plague, making it far less of a threat than it once was, you should still minimize the risk of infected fleas finding their way onto your dog. Hartz flea control products – like flea shampoo, flea spray and flea collars – can provide an effective defense for your pooch.

How can my dog get the plague?
The bacterium Yersinia pestis gets passed from host to host (mainly rats), and when a flea finds that same host and settles in for a snack, it can ingest the bacterium and carry it around until it reaches its next meal. The Illinois Department of Public Health indicated that fleas infected with plague bacteria may bite their hosts repeatedly because of how the bacteria reproduce inside the insects. This means that your dog can get the plague very easily if an infected flea gets a chance to bite him, adding one more reason to pay close attention for signs of fleas and illness in your canine companion.

What are the signs of plague in dogs?
If an infected flea manages to get a bite before the dog flea treatment can take effect you used to protect your pet, the first thing the bacteria target is the lymph nodes. PetMD reported that the plague causes the lymph nodes to produce an excess of white blood cells, which also leads to fluid buildup, swelling and even skin breakage. You may not be able to see most of these symptoms, but you can keep an eye out for signs your dog has a fever, excessive pain or inflammation. He might also experience vomiting, diarrhea, depression and loss of appetite.

Is plague common in dogs?
Truth be told, if your dog gets bitten by an infected flea, he might not ever show signs of the illness, because most canines are highly resistant to bacteria, according to PetMD. However, the plague can be transmitted through contaminated fluids, so if your dog is a carrier and he licks your face, there's a chance you could get the illness. For that reason, it's important to treat not just your pet but your home and yard as well.

This content is provided by the flea treatment experts at Hartz. We offer flea sprays, shampoos and drops to keep your pets safe inside and outside your home.