Fleas are the most common external parasite in the world and are capable of making your pet absolutely miserable. If not promptly treated, this may even cause infections and serious diseases. Here, our Clovis vets explain signs of fleas and what to do if your pet has them.
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 the expected symptoms of scratching and itching, your pet may also display red bumps and pimples at the base of their belly, on their behind and on their groin. Their contact scratching of these areas will cause them to develop dry skin and potentially even lose hair. Infections and lesions can develop and lead to more serious diseases if fleas aren't promptly treated.
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 generally a good ideas to check your pet's comb or brush when grooming them. Have your pet lie on their side in order to get a closer look at areas of their body with thin hair like their 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 there are no signs of fleas but your pet is still scratching, schedule an appointment with your vet, who can administer a skin test to check for flea allergies, in addition to other types of allergies during your visit. Your pet may be reacting to another type of allergy that's making them uncomfortable.
If my cat or dog does have fleas, how do I get rid of them?
There are a number of safe and effective treatments that can be used to eliminate fleas, including sprays, shampoos, powders and topical liquids. You may need to visit your vet for prescribes creams or antibiotics if your pet has a particularly severe infestation of fleas.
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.