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

Fleas are a very common type of external parasite, and they have the ability to make your cat or dog miserable. If you don't treat your pet's fleas quickly they can cause infections and serious diseases. Here, our Monroe vets explain what fleas are, discuss the signs of an infestation, and share ways you can get rid of your pet's fleas. 

What are fleas?

Fleas are external parasites that need an animal host to survive. Unless you take the appropriate measures to break their lifecycle, adult fleas will keep reproducing and thriving in your pet and in your home. 

What are the signs of a flea infestation?

Your cat or dog could have an allergy to a protein in flea saliva, this can make them scratch immediately after being bitten by a flea. Just a single fleabite can make your pet agitated and excessively scratch.

Other than scratching your pet could get red bumps or pimples at the base of their tail, on their belly, on their groin, under their legs, or on their behind. The continuous itching and scratching of these areas will lead to hair loss and dry skin. Lesions and infections can arise and cause more serious diseases if the fleas go untreated. 

How can I tell if my pet has fleas?

Adult fleas are small, brown, and fairly easy to spot with the human eye. 

We recommend checking your pet's brush or comb while you're grooming them. If you have your pet lay on their side you should be able to get a closer look at areas that have thin hair, such as the abdomen. 

You might find "flea dirt" which looks similar to tiny grains of sand, or black pepper when wet. To look 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 cat or dog on a white cloth or towel when brushing them, you will be able to easily see any black droppings that fall from their fur. 

What if I don't see any proof of fleas, but my pet is still scratching?

If there aren't any signs of fleas but your cat or dog is still scratching, book an appointment with your vet, who will be able to administer a skin test to check for flea allergies, in addition to other types of allergies during your visit. Your pet could be reacting to another type of allergy that's making them uncomfortable.  

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

There are a handful of safe and effective treatments available that you can use to eliminate fleas, such as shampoos, sprays, powders, and topical liquids. If your pet's case of fleas is more severe you might have to visit your vet to get a prescription cream or antibiotics. 

Early treatment and prevention are the first choice methods to make sure your cat or dog doesn't develop more serious problems in the future, as a result of fleas. 

If your dog is suffering from fleas, it's critical to get them treated quickly, so contact our Monroe vets today and schedule an appointment.