Fleas are considered the most common external parasite and can cause incredible discomfort to your pet. If left untreated, these parasites can lead to infection and serious diseases. Our Kittrell vets will enlighten you to the signs of fleas as well as some steps to rid your pet of these pests.
What are fleas?
Fleas are external parasites that rely solely on a host animal for survival. Unless treatment is administered 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 sometimes 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, 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 infections can develop and lead to more serious conditions if fleas are left untreated.
How can I check my pet for fleas?
Adult fleas are small and brown. They are relatively easy to spot with the naked eye.
A helpful tip is to take a look at your pet's comb during a grooming session. Even just asking your pet to lay on their side will allow you a closer look at any areas with thinner 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 under their belly. 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 your pet continues to itch with no evidence of fleas, contact your vet, and they can administer a skin test to check for flea allergies as well as other types of allergies. Your pet may not have fleas at all, but a skin allergy instead.
If my cat or dog does have fleas, how do I get rid of them?
There are a number of effective and safe treatments that can be used to get rid of fleas, including sprays, powders, shampoos, and topical liquids. You may need to quire a prescription from your vet fr certain creams and antibiotics if your pet's case is more serious.
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.