How Can I Tell If My Cat or Dog Has Fleas?

How Can I Tell If My Cat or Dog Has Fleas?

The most common external parasite that can make your cat or dog miserable is Fleas. If fleas go untreated, they can cause serious diseases and infections. Thats why our Novato veterinarians are talking to you about the early signs of these parasites and what you can do to get rid of them. 

What are fleas?

Fleas are external parasites that need animal hosts to survive and cats and dogs are a popular target. If you don't stop the fleas life cycle fast they will keep reproducing and thriving on your pet and in your home. 

What are the signs of a flea infestation?

Your pet could have an allergy to a protein in flea saliva, this is what makes them itch and scratch, it only takes one flea bite for them to become agitated and start scratching excessively. 

Other flea symptoms your cat or dog could display is red pimples and bumps on their skin, they will generally appear on their belly, at the base of their tail, on their behind, on their groin or under their legs. The continuous itching of these areas can make your pet's skin dry and cause fur loss. Lesions and infection can also develop and causing more severe diseases if the fleas aren't treated. 

How do I check my pet for fleas?

Adult fleas are small and brown but still relatively easy to see with the naked eye. 

It's a good idea to check your pet's brush or comb when you are grooming them. If you lay your pet on their side you will be able to get a closer look at the areas with thin hair, such as the abdomen. 

You might see "flea dirt" which looks like tiny grains of sand, or black pepper when wet. To check for flea dirt (feces), use a fine-tooth flea comb that you can get at your vet's office to comb along your pet's back and underbelly. By having your pet stand on a white towel or cloth when you are brushing them, you will be able to easily see any black droppings that fall off their fur. 

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

If there isn't any signs of fleas but your pet is still scratching, book an appointment with your vet, who can perform a skin test to check for flea allergies as well as other types of allergies at your visit. Your pet might be having a reaction to another type of allergy that's making them uncomfortable.  

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

There is many safe and effective treatments that can be used to eliminate fleas, including shampoos, sprays, powders and topical liquids. You might have to go to your veterinarian for prescription creams and antibiotics if your pet's case is more severe. 

Treating fleas early and even preventing them are the best ways to make sure your cat or dog doesn't develop more serious issues in the future, because of fleas. 

If you believe your cat or dog has fleas, it's best to treat them quickly, so contact our Novato vets today to schedule an appointment.