Fleas are the most common external parasite, and they can be extremely annoying to your pet! They can even cause infections and serious diseases if left untreated. Our Beacon veterinarians explain the early signs of fleas as well as what to do if your pet does have fleas.
What are fleas?
Fleas are parasitic insects that need a host animal to survive. Adult fleas will continue to reproduce and thrive on your pet, and in your home, unless you take steps to break their lifecycle.
What signs of flea infestation should I look for?
Flea saliva contains a protein that cats and dogs may be allergic to, which is why they scratch as soon as a flea bites them. Pets may scratch excessively and become agitated as a result of even a single flea bite.
Red bumps or pimples may appear on their belly, at the base of their tail, on their behind, in their groin, or under their legs. Dry skin and hair loss will result from the constant scratching and itching of these areas. If fleas are not treated, lesions and infections can develop, leading to more serious diseases.
How can I check my pet for fleas?
Fleas are brown and small when they are adults. With the naked eye, they are fairly easy to spot.
While grooming your pet, it's a good idea to check the brush or comb to see if you picked up any fleas. You should get a better look at areas with thin hair, such as the abdomen, by having your pet lie down on their side.
You may be able to see Flea dirt (feces). When wet, this resembles sand grains or black pepper. Use a fine-tooth flea comb to comb along your pet's back and underbelly to check for flea dirt. You'll be able to see any black droppings that fall from your pet's fur if you brush them while standing them on a white towel or cloth. Flea dirt is a very strong indicator of fleas.
What if I can’t find any fleas, but my pet is still scratching?
If your pet is scratching despite the absence of fleas, make an appointment with your veterinarian. They can perform a skin test to check for flea allergies as well as other allergies during your visit. Your pet could be reacting to a different type of allergy.
If my cat or dog does have fleas, how do I get rid of them?
Shampoos, sprays, powders, and topical liquids are just a few of the safe and effective flea treatments available. If your pet's condition is more severe, you may need to see your veterinarian for prescription creams and antibiotics.
Early treatment and prevention are the best ways to ensure that your dog or cat doesn't develop more serious problems as a result of fleas in the future.