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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 the most prevalent external parasite, and they may be quite annoying to your pet! If left untreated, they can develop infections and severe illnesses. Our Torrance vets explain early signs of fleas and 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?

Cats and dogs may be allergic to the protein in flea saliva, which is why they scratch as soon as a flea bites them. Even a single fleabite might cause your pet to itch excessively and become irritated.

Besides scratching, red bumps or pimples may appear:

  • On their belly
  • At the base of their tail
  • On their behind
  • On their groin
  • Under their legs 
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. They are relatively easy to spot with the naked eye. 

While you're grooming your pet, be sure to inspect their brush or comb. By laying your pet on their side, you can get a better look at regions with sparse hair, such as the tummy.

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 fleas, but your pet is still itching, make an appointment with your veterinarian, who may do a skin test to screen for flea allergies as well as other forms of allergies during your visit. Your pet may be experiencing discomfort as a result of another sort of allergy.

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, 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 pet doesn't develop more serious issues in the future, as a result of fleas. 

Do you think your dog may have a severe case of fleas? Prompt treatment is key. Book an appointment at Harbor Animal Hospital today.

New Patients Welcome

New Patients Welcome

Harbor Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Torrance companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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