Fleas are a very common type of external parasite that can make your cat or dog irritated and miserable. If they go untreated fleas can even cause infections and serious diseases. Today, our Fountain Valley vets explain what fleas are, how you can spot them, and ways to get rid of them.
What are fleas?
Fleas are external parasites that need to live on an animal host to survive. If you don't take the required steps to break their lifecycle, adult fleas will keep thriving and reproducing on your pet and in your home.
What are the signs and symptoms of a flea infestation?
Your cat or dog could be allergic to a protein in flea saliva, which can make them itch and scratch immediately after being bitten by a flea. Just a single fleabite can make pets agitated and scratch excessively.
Other than scratching you may see red bumps or pimples on your pet's belly, on their behind, under their legs, or at the base of their tail. If your cat or dog continuously itches and scratches at these areas it could result in dry skin and hair loss. Lesions and infections could also develop and cause more serious diseases if the fleas go without treatment.
How do I check my cat or dog for fleas?
Adult fleas are small brown, and fairly easy to see with the human eye.
We recommend checking your animal's comb or brush when you are grooming them. If you have your pet lay on their stomach you can look closer at areas that have thinner fur 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 should if my pet is scratching and I can’t find any fleas?
If you can't detect any signs of fleas but your cat or dog is still scratching, you should call your vet to schedule an appointment. At this visit, your veterinarian will conduct a skin test to check for flea allergies and other types of allergies. Your furry companion could be having a reaction to another allergen that is making them uncomfortable.
How can I get rid of my cat or dog's fleas?
There are a variety of safe and effective treatments available that can be used to get rid of fleas such as sprays, topical liquids, powders, and shampoos. If your pet has a more serious case of fleas you might have to visit your vet to get a prescription cream or/and 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.