Fleas are a common external parasite that can make life miserable for you and your pet! If left untreated, they may also lead to infections and cause serious disease. Our Perry vets explain the signs of infestation what to do if your pet does have fleas.
What are fleas?
Fleas are external parasites that rely on a host animal for 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 look for?
Flea bites are itchy for cats and dogs as they are often allergic to a protein in flea saliva, even one bite can cause pets to scratch excessively!
If you notice your pit frequently scratching, look for small red bumps on their belly, under their legs, near their groin, or at the base of their tail. If left untreated, 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 while examining your pet. Having your pet lie on their side will let you have a closer look at areas with thin hair, such as the abdomen.
While grooming them, 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 there are no signs of fleas but your cat or dog is still scratching, schedule an appointment with your vet, 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 experiencing a reaction to something else that is making them itchy.
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 on your cat or dog, 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.