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

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

Fleas are an incredibly common external parasite and they can make you pet absolutely miserable. If they ar4en't treated promptly, they may even cause infections or serious diseases. Our Gilbert vets explain early signs of fleas, and what to do if your pet does have 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 can be allergic to flea saliva, which is the reason why they will often start scratching immediately after the first flea bite.  Even just one flea bite can cause them 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 will cause dry skin and hair loss. Lesions and infection can develop and lead to more severe diseases if fleas are left untreated. 

How can I check my pet for fleas?

Adult fleas are brown and quite small. However, they are relatively easy to spot with your naked eye/

It is a good policy to check you pet for fleas as you groom them. Have your pet lie on their side so you can get a closer look at areas with thinner hair, like their abdomen, where fleas would be easier to spot.

You may also see "flea dirt," or flea feces. This substance looks like small grains of sand or, when wet, black pepper. To check your pet for flea dirt, use a fine-toothed flea comb (you can get one from your vet's office)  and comb along their back and underbelly. If you stand your pet on a white towel or cloth while doing so, you will be able to easily see black droppings which fall from their fur, if there are any.

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

If your pet is still scratching despite there being no sign of fleas, schedule an appointment with your vet. They can administer a test on your pet's skin for allergies including and beyond fleas. Your pet may be reacting to a different allergy that is causing them to scratch.

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

There are a number of effective and safe and effective treatments when it comes to fleas. These can include shampoos, topical liquids, sprays and powders. If your pet's case of fleas is severe, you may also need to ask your vet about prescriptions creams or antibiotics.

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 dog may have a severe case of fleas? Prompt treatment is key. Book an appointment at Crossroads Veterinary Hospital today.

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