How can I tell if my cat or dog has fleas?

Fleas are an extremely common external parasite, and they can make your pet miserable! Left untreated, these nuisances may even lead to infections and serious diseases. Our Brodheadsville vets discuss early signs of fleas and what to do if your pet does have fleas. 

What are fleas?

Fleas are external parasites that need a host animal in order to survive. Unless their lifecycle is broken, adult fleas can continue to reproduce both on your pet and in your household. 

What are the signs of fleas on my pet?

Cats and dogs could be allergic to the protein in flea saliva, which is why they often start to scratch themselves as soon as they get bitten by a flea. Even one fleabite may cause pets to scratch excessively and become agitated. 

Besides scratching, red bumps or pimples may appear on their belly, at the base of their tail or on their behind, on their groin, or under their legs. The constant itching and scratching of these areas can cause dry skin and hair loss, and lesions and infections can occur and lead to more severe diseases if fleas are not treated.

How do I check my pet for fleas?

Adult fleas are small and brown, which means that they are relatively easy to spot with the naked eye. 

It's a good idea to check your pet's brush or comb while you're grooming them. Having your pet lie on their side will let you have a closer look at areas with thin hair, such as the abdomen. 

You may see flea feces, which is often called "flea dirt". This looks similar to tiny grains of sand, or black pepper when wet. To see if your pet has flea dirt, use a fine-tooth flea comb available at your vet's office to comb along your pet's back and underbelly. By standing your pet on a white towel or cloth while brushing them, you will be able to easily see any black droppings that fall from their fur. 

What if I can’t find any fleas, but my pet is still itchy?

If there are no signs of fleas but your pet is still scratching, schedule an appointment with your vet, who can administer a skin test to check for flea allergies, in addition to other types of allergies during your visit. Your pet may be reacting to another type of allergy that's making them uncomfortable.  

If my cat or dog has fleas, how do I get rid of them?

There are a number of safe and effective treatments can be used to eliminate fleas, including shampoos, sprays, powders, and topical liquids. You may need to visit your vet for prescription creams and antibiotics if your pet's case is more severe. 

Early treatment and prevention are the first methods of choice to ensure your dog doesn't develop more serious issues in the future, as a result of fleas. 

Do you think your pet may have fleas? Prompt treatment is key. Book an appointment at Brodheadsville Veterinary Clinic today.