Fleas, a common external parasite, can make your pet (and you) miserable! If left untreated, your living space can easily become infested with fleas. They may even lead to infections and cause serious diseases. Today, our Grass Valley vets explain early signs of fleas, and what to do if you suspect your pet has fleas.
What are fleas?
Fleas are small external parasites that rely on host animals for survival. If your pet has fleas you must take the proper steps to break their lifecycle or they will continue to reproduce and thrive on your pet.
What signs of flea infestation should I look for?
Excessive scratching is often the most common sign of a flea infestation. Cats and dogs may be allergic to the protein in flea saliva, which can cause your pet severe itchiness.
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 severe diseases if fleas are left untreated.
How can I check my pet for fleas?
Adult fleas are small and brown and are relatively easy to spot with the naked eye, although it can be more difficult on pets with long or dark hair.
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 see any signs of fleas but your pet is still scratching, make an appointment with your vet. They will be able to confirm whether your pet has fleas or another condition or allergy that is causing them discomfort.
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.