How do I know if my dog or cat has fleas?

Fleas can make your cat or dog miserable, lead to infection and cause more serious diseases. To help you detect fleas early, our Greensboro vets share some signs of flea infestations and ways to keep your pet happy, healthy, and free of fleas.

What are fleas?

Fleas are parasites that depend upon a host animal for their survival. Adult fleas will continue to reproduce and thrive on your dog or cat until the flea's lifecycle is finally broken. 

What signs of flea infestation should I look for?

Just one flea bite can cause your pet to become agitated and scratch excessively. Cats and dogs can both be allergic to the protein in flea saliva, which is what will cause your pet to itch or scratch as soon they are bitten.

Red pimples or bumps on your pet's groin, belly, under the legs, on their behind, or at the base of their tail can be a sign that your pet is suffering from fleas. Dry skin and hair loss can result from your pet's constant itching or scratching of these tender areas. If left untreated, lesions and infection can develop.

How can I check my pet for fleas?

Adult fleas are large enough to spot easily with the naked eye. 

When grooming your pet be sure to check the comb or brush for signs of fleas. Having your pet  lie on their side so that you can check thinly-haired areas like the abdomen is helpful.

As well as watching for adult fleas, it's also a good idea to keep an eye out for adult flea feces (or flea dirt). Flea feces looks similar to black pepper or tiny grains of sand that turn red when wet. Use a fine-toothed flea comb, available from your vet, to comb along your pet's underbelly and back and looking for flea dirt. Get your pet to stand on a white towel or cloth while you groom them. That way you will easily be able to spot the black droppings as they fall off of your pet and onto the white fabric. 

What if I can’t find any fleas, but my pet is still scratching?

If your pet is scratching or seems uncomfortable, but you can't see any signs of fleas, bring your pet to see their veterinarian. Your vet can test your dog or cat for flea allergies as well as other common allergies which may be causing your pet discomfort. 

If my cat or dog does have fleas, how do I get rid of them?

Effective treatment options are available to prevent or eliminate fleas: powders, sprays, shampoos and topical liquids are all readily available and easy to use. In severe cases your pet may required prescription creams or antibiotics from your vet.

To ensure that your pet doesn't develop more serious issues down the road due to fleas, prevention and prompt treatment is essential.

'Bundling' a year's worth of preventive healthcare services and products allows us to offer you reduced pricing. Choose the Wellness Plan that's right for your pet.

Signs & Symptoms of Fleas | Greensboro Vet

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