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

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

Fleas are a very common external parasite that can make your pet miserable! Left untreated, fleas can lead to infections and cause serious diseases. Today our North Boulder vets explain the early signs of fleas, and what to do if your pet has fleas. 

What are fleas?

Fleas are external parasites that rely on a host animal for their 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 watch for?

Cats and dogs can be allergic to the protein in flea saliva, which is why they often start to scratch as soon as a flea bites their skin. Just one flea bite can cause pets to scratch excessively and become agitated. 

As well as scratching, red bumps or pimples may appear on your pet's belly, at the base of their tail or on their behind, on their groin or under their legs. Relentless itching and scratching of these areas will often 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 small, brown and relatively easy to spot with the naked eye. 

Our vets recommend checking your pet's brush or comb for signs of fleas whenever you're grooming them. Having your pet lie on their side will allow you to have a closer look at areas with thin hair, such as the abdomen. 

You may notice "flea dirt" which 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 your animal's 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, book an appointment with your veterinarian, 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?

A number of safe and effective treatments can be used to eliminate fleas from your pet, 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 or cat doesn't develop more serious issues in the future, as a result of fleas. 

Do you think your dog or cat may have a severe case of fleas? Prompt treatment is essential. Book an appointment at North Boulder Companion Animal Hospital today.

New Patients Are Welcome At Our North Boulder Animal Hospital

(303) 443-9003