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

Fleas are the most common external parasite seen on pets. These external parasites can not only make your pet uncomfortable but could also cause infections or other serious conditions. Our Gardena vets discuss what signs to look for and how to properly treat fleas on your cat or dog.

What are fleas?

Fleas are external parasites that survive strictly on the blood of animals. Fleas can very quickly reproduce and infest your dog as well as your household.

What are the signs of fleas?

Cats and dogs are allergic to the saliva of the flea which is why dogs and cats are known to scratch so much when suffering from fleas. I can only take one flea bot for your pet to become intensely irritated.

Along with the scratching, your pet may develop red bumps or pimples on their belly, near the base of their tail or on their behind, groin or under their legs. Your pet could be scratching so excessively that they will also end up dealing with excessive hair loss in the areas where they have been irritated. It is possible for lesions and infections to develop and lead to more severe diseases if fleas are left untreated. 

How should I inspect my pet for fleas?

Adult fleas are small and brown and can be quite obvious to see when looking at your pets skin and fur with your naked eye,

You can also look for fleas by monitoring the comb while you are grooming your pet.  If you have your pet lay on their side then focus on the areas with thinner fur, such as the abdomen. 

You may notice "flea dirt". Flea dirt looks very much like tiny grains of sand, or black pepper when wet. To check for flea dirt (feces), use a fine-tooth flea comb available at your vet's office to comb along your pet's back and underbelly. If you use the comb to brush your pet's fur over the white towel and they have fleas, you should see the fleas falling to the towel.

What if my pet is scratching with no signs of fleas?

If your pet is still obsessively scratching, yet there were no signs of fleas then it is time to schedule an appointment with your vet. Your vet will be able to administer a skin test to check for flea allergies, in addition to other types of allergies during your visit. Allergies in pets can be extremely uncomfortable and your pet may be suffering the symptoms and unable to tell you.

How do I treat fleas?

There is a wide range of very safe and effective treatments that are designed to eliminate fleas, including shampoos, sprays, powders and topical liquids. If you require any prescription creams and antibiotics if your pet's case is more severe, then you will require a visit with your vet to have them diagnosed. 

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. 

If your pet has fleas it is important to treat the condition immediately otherwise your pet and home can quickly become infested. Schedule an appointment with your vet at Alondra Animal Hospital today.