How do I know if my dog or cat has fleas?

Fleas can make your pet miserable and lead to more serious conditions. Early detection and treatment of fleas are essential for protecting the health of your animal. Here our vets share some common signs that your dog or cat may have fleas.

What are fleas?

Fleas are parasites that depend upon host animals for their survival. Pets, including dogs, cats and other small mammals, are ideal hosts for fleas. If left untreated, adult fleas will reproduce and thrive both on your pet, and in your home. 

What signs of flea infestation should I look for?

Dogs and cats often begin itching and scratching as soon as a single flea bites their skin. Just one flea bite can cause pets to become agitated and scratch excessively. Bumps or pimples may appear on your pet's behind, groin, belly, under the legs, or at the base of their tail. Constant scratching of these areas can cause hair loss and patches of dry skin. If your pet's flea problem is left untreated, lesions and infection can develop and lead to more severe conditions.

How can I check my pet for fleas?

Adult fleas are small, brown and easy to see with the naked eye. Groom your pet regularly and make it a habit to check your pet's comb or brush frequently for signs of fleas. To get a closer look, have your dog or cat lie on their side so that you can check the thinly-haired areas around your pet's tummy.

Also watch for adult flea feces (or flea dirt) during grooming. Flea dirt looks similar to black pepper or tiny grains of sand that turn red when wet. To check your pet more thoroughly, use a fine-toothed flea comb available from your vet, to comb along your pet's underbelly and back. Having your pet stand on a white towel or cloth while you groom them can help you to see flea dirt that falls from your pet. 

What if my pet is still scratching but I can find fleas?

If there are no signs of fleas but your pet seems uncomfortable and itchy, make an appointment to see your vet. Your veterinarian can administer a skin test to check for flea allergies as well as other allergies that could be causing your pet's discomfort. 

How can I get rid of fleas on my dog or cat?

Flea prevention and treatments are available in many formulations, from powders and sprays to shampoos and topical liquids. In severe cases, you may need to contact your vet who can prescribe creams and antibiotics to help kill fleas and make your pet feel better.

When it comes to fleas, prevention and prompt treatment are the best ways to ensure that your dog or cat doesn't develop more serious issues down the road. Flea prevention medications are available from your vet. Speak to our team of veterinary professionals to find out which prevention method is best for your pet.

Flea prevention is part of our parasite prevention services. Contact our office to schedule an appointment for your pet today.

Preventing and treating fleas on pets, Flat Rock Vet

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