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Top Signs Your Dog or Cat Could Have Fleas (& What to Do About Them)

Top Signs Your Dog or Cat Could Have Fleas (& What to Do About Them)

Spring and summer bring new opportunities to spend time with your dog outdoors, but this time of year isn’t without its caveats. Unfortunately, fleas thrive in warm weather. If you’ve noticed your dog (or even cat) scratching more than usual after a recent trip to the dog park, fleas might be to blame.

Your dog could contract fleas on their daily walk, from other pets at the dog park or in your household. Fleas move quickly from one host to the next, and humans aren’t immune to their itchy bites either. Knowing the signs of fleas will help you spot them early and get rid of them before you and your pup endure too much discomfort.

What are the signs of fleas?

Incessant scratching, licking, or chewing at their fur is a sign your dog or cat could have fleas. To confirm a flea infestation, you’ll have to look closer.

Adult fleas are reddish-brown and about 2.5 millimetres long. They move quickly and may jump off your pet when disturbed.

Even if you don’t spot the pests themselves, there are other signs fleas are present, including:

  • Flea dirt: Flea dirt is flea feces, consisting of dried blood from their host. It looks like tiny, reddish-brown specks of sand and may be found on your pet’s skin or anywhere they frequently lay.
  • Flea eggs: Flea eggs are white ovals, usually about half a millimetre in size. They are tough to spot but may be found in your pet’s fur, on their bed, or on the carpet in your home.
  • Skin irritation: Flea bites often leave a pet’s skin looking red and bumpy. The bites might have a visible wound in the center, surrounded by a red ring.

How to check your dog or cat for fleas

Use the following techniques to locate the signs of fleas on your pet.

Check your pet’s skin

Fleas tend to live on the top of a pet’s hindquarters, just above the base of the tail, under the neck or near a pet’s groin. Part your pet’s fur, and look for signs of fleas or skin irritation in these areas.

Use a flea comb

A flea comb is a fine-toothed comb specifically designed to remove fleas, flea dirt, and eggs from a pet’s coat. If your pet has fleas, the comb will help expose them. Dip the comb in soapy water before combing your pet to help the fleas stick to it. Dunk any live fleas in soapy water to kill them. To make this process easier, do it in the bathtub.

You may need a few grooming sessions to remove all the fleas and flea debris from your pet.

Do the paper towel test

If you notice black or brown specks on your dog or cat, do the paper towel test to confirm that it’s flea dirt.

Run the flea comb through your pet’s coat, and then brush the residue from the comb onto a damp paper towel. Flea dirt is dried blood, so it will leave streaks on the paper towel when it comes into contact with the moisture. If you don’t see any streaks, your pet is in the clear!

How to treat and prevent fleas

Once you find fleas on your dog or cat, your next step is to eliminate them and keep them gone for good. Fortunately, at The Dog Market we stock many effective flea treatment methods, including medication and holistic approaches.

  • Advantage II flea treatment: Advantage is a topical flea treatment medication that kills fleas and lice in any life stage upon contact. Apply it during an infestation to eliminate fleas and then administer it monthly to prevent future flea infestations.  
  • K9 Advantix II: This topical medication can be administered monthly to kill and prevent fleas, lice, and, most importantly, ticks on your dog. 
  • Ultrasonic pendant for fleas and ticks: This 1-inch tag uses ultrasonic technology to repel fleas and ticks. All you have to do is attach it to your pet’s collar. This pendant is a great chemical-free option to consider for long-term flea and tick prevention on your dog and cat. With a new and improved design this amazing pendant is now waterproof and available in 2 colours (black and orange).

Now that you know the common signs that your pet has fleas, you’ll be able to spot a potential infestation before it gets out of control.

Remember, fleas are most common during spring and summer, so make a note in your calendar to follow a flea-prevention routine leading into warm weather months. Your furbaby will thank you!

Make a habit of carrying a Tick Key with you during the spring and summer so you can easily remove a tick from your pet if you spot one. These small devices are incredibly useful and you can attach it to your keychain so you always have it on hand!

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