Fleas are among the most common external parasite in the world and are capable of making your pet absolutely miserable. If not promptly treated, these parasites may even lead to infections or more serious diseases. Here, our veterinary team in in Banning explains early signs of fleas as well as what actions to take if your pet has fleas.
What are fleas?
Fleas are external parasites that rely on a host animal for survival. Unless steps are taken to break their lifecycle, adult fleas will continue to reproduce and thrive on your pet - and in your household.
What signs of flea infestation should I look for?
Cats and dogs may be allergic to the protein in flea saliva, which is why they often start to scratch as soon as a flea bites their skin. Even one flea bite may cause pets to scratch excessively and become agitated.
Besides scratching, pimples or red bumps may appear on your pet's belly, at the base of their tail and around their groin. The constant itching of these areas will cause hair loss and dry skin. Lesions and infection can also develop if untreated and lead to severe diseases.
How can I check my pet for fleas?
Adult fleas are small and brown. 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 dirt". This looks similar to 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. 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 scratching?
If you can't find any signs of fleas, but your pet is still excessively scratching, schedule an appointment with your vet. They will be able to administer a skin test to check for flea allergies among many others. Your pet may actually be having an allergic reaction to something besides fleas which is making them uncomfortable.
If my cat or dog does have fleas, how do I get rid of them?
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.