Fleas are one of the most common external parasites in the world and are capable of making your pet absolutely miserable. If not promptly treated, they may even lead to infections and serious diseases in your companion. Here, our Phenix City vets explain early signs of fleas in your pet and what to do if you pet has a serious case of fleas.
What are fleas?
Fleas are external parasites that rely on their host animal for survival. Unless steps ar taken in order to break their lifecycle, adult fleas will continue to thrive on your pet and in your home.
What signs of flea infestation should I look for?
Cats and dogs may be allergic to the protein in flea saliva, which is why they often start to scratch as soon as a flea bites their skin. Even one flea bite may cause pets to scratch excessively and become agitated.
Besides the expected scratching, red bumps or pimples may appear on your pet's belly, at the base of their tail and under their legs. Their constant itching and scratching of these areas will cause dry hair and skin loss and, if left long enough, even lesions or infections.
How can I check my pet for fleas?
Adult fleas are small and brown. They are relatively easy to spot with the naked eye.
It's a good idea to check your pet's brush or comb while you're grooming them. Having your pet lie on their side will let you have a closer look at areas with thin hair, 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 if I can’t find any fleas, but my pet is still scratching?
If you don't see any signs of fleas but your pet is still insistently scratching, schedule an appointment with your vet in order to administer a skin test and check for flea allergies. It may actually be that your pet is allergic to something else altogether and reaching to a totally different allergy.
If my cat or dog does have fleas, how do I get rid of them?
There are a number of safe and effective treatments used to eliminate fleas, including shampoos, sprays, powders and topical liquids. You may need to visit your vet for a prescriptions cream or 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.