Fleas can make your pet uncomfortable and unhappy, which is too bad because they are also the most common external parasite! If they aren't promptly treated, they can also contribute to infections and other serious diseases. Our Scottsdale Ranch Animal Hospital vet team explains signs of fleas and what to do if you find them in your pet.
What are fleas?
External parasites, fleas rely on their host animal for their survival. Unless you take the necessary steps to break their lifecycle, fleas can live, reproduce and thrive on your pet and in your home.
What signs of flea infestation should I look for?
Many cats and dogs and allergic to flea saliva. Because of this they will begin scratching immediately after their first bite. Even just one flea bite can be enough to cause a pet to scratch abnormally often and become distressed.
You might be able to find red bumps or pimples on their bellies, at the base of their tails, around their groin and under their legs. Scratching of these areas will cause pets to experience hair loss and dry skin as well as sores and infection if fleas are left untreated for long enough.
How can I check my pet for fleas?
Adult fleas are small and brown. They are large enough to be spotted with your naked eye.
It is often a good idea to regularly check the comb or brush you use on your pet, You can also have your pet lie on their site in order to check their abdomen or other areas where they have thinner hair.
You may also find "flea dirt." This substance looks like a fine dirt or black pepper. To check for these flea leavings, use a fine-tooth flea comb that you can get form your vet's office. If you stand your pet on a white towel while brushing them in this way, you will be able to easily see any flea dirt that drop from them.
What if I can’t find any fleas, but my pet is still scratching?
If your pet is still excessively scratching despite there being no signs of fleas, contact your vet . They will be able to test your pet for flea allergies as well as other possible allergic reactions your pet might be experiencing.
If my cat or dog does have fleas, how do I get rid of them?
There are many effective and safe treatment available for fleas including powders, topical liquids, shampoos and sprays. If your pet's case of fleas is more severe, you may need to ask your vet for a prescription for creams or antibiotics.
Prevention and early treatment are the best ways to protect your pet against fleas and make sure they don't experience more sever issues down the road as a result.