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Dr. John
Dr. John, Texas Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
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Experience:  Over 14 years of clinical veterinary experience
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My dog appears to always be covered in flea dirt but I give

Customer Question

My dog appears to always be covered in flea dirt but I give him Nitenpyram 3 days a week (mon, wed, fri) and he hasn't been outside in over a month and since then I have vaccummed a lot...even the sofa. I own a 45x lighted magnifying glass and a microscope that does up to 2,000 times magnification and a flea can be seen well between 50-200x magnification and I have never seen a flea definitively once...there was one time I thought I saw a black speck jump from the flea comb but that could of just been my hand shaking or something. I will attach a pic of what I have been thinking was flea dirt and please tell me if you think it is flea dirt or if you think it is some kind of skin condition. He is suffering from some flakey brown skin condition also but would that produce what is in the pic?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  William Withers replied 1 year ago.

That looks like it might be flea dirt. If you put rubbing alcohol on flea dirt, it will turn from black to reddish. Fleas spend about 80-90% of their time off the pet, so it isn't unusual you wouldn't see them. Have you treated the environment?

Expert:  William Withers replied 1 year ago.

Also, fleas will live and reproduce inside a vacuum cleaner. Is it a bagless cleaner? Placing moth balls inside the vacuum will kill them in there.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It is more brown then black and I always put the wipe into rubbing alcohol after and leave it completely submersed for 12 min just in case there are any fleas there. Like I said in the question I have vacummed many many times and I submerse the vaccum bag in rubbing alcohol for 12 min to drown the fleas if they survive the vaccumming. Is vaccumming not sufficient to treat the environment? He hasn't been outside in a month. I find it hard to believe that he would always be SATURATED in flea firt and I would never see a flea. In order to be completely covered he must have a ton of fleas and I have been looking like crazy and cannot find any.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The color doesn't change in rubbing alcohol
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The fleas die after they bite him when he has the nitenpryam in his system so I would think that I would of come across at least a dead flea considering that I am actively seeking them out in both the environment and him. Is there a skin condition that can look like flea dirt but be something else?
Expert:  William Withers replied 1 year ago.

Fleas can live under furniture and along baseboards so vacuuming alone usually isn't enough. You usually have to use sprays or bombs, or if you want to go more natural, use Borax (check or diatomaceous earth

Expert:  William Withers replied 1 year ago.

Regarding things other than fleas, some types of dermatitis can produce flaking, but that is more often white or beige versus black or brown. Giving regular baths with a good moisturizer such as oatmeal certainly should do no harm.

Expert:  William Withers replied 1 year ago.

And fleas are sneaky buggers.....they can jump on, suck some blood, take a poop (flea dirt) and jump back off before you know it. :-)

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
it is white on the flea comb and turns to brown on the alcohol free hand sanitizing wipe. There is no way it can be fleas because he is completely saturated in the alleged flea dirt appearing matter how sneaky they are I should of come across at least one by now if there are thousands in my house. I would see the larve or eggs on the bed, etc. And it doesn't change color to red when wet.
Expert:  William Withers replied 1 year ago.

We might be getting to the root of our problem. "Flea dirt" is black, not white. Black = flea dirt/poop. White = dandruff/flakes of dry skin, for which the oatmeal bathing and essential fatty acid skin supplements can help. And one last note: you cannot see flea eggs or larvae with the naked eye, they are microscopic.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
i read that the larve were 1/8th of an inch. white but turn brown on wipe. my dog hates bathes...couldnt lotion help? dont baths dry skin too? why wpuld white danduff turn brown on wipes?
Expert:  William Withers replied 1 year ago.

Flea larvae are about 2.5mm, or less than a tenth of an inch, and eggs are about a fifth of that size. If you can spot them, you've got good eyes. :-)

The skin doesn't dry out if you are using a moisturizing shampoo such as oatmeal or aloe. I don't usually recommend lotions on pet's skin because I think it tends to block the pores.

Not sure about why the white flakes turn brown with the alcohol wipes, sorry.