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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 one of the most common external parasites in the world and they can make your pet extremely uncomfortable. If they aren't promptly treated, they may also cause infections and serious diseases. Our Avon vets explain early signs of fleas, and what to do if your pet does have fleas. 

What are fleas?

Fleas are external parasites and rely on their host animal for survival. Unless you take steps to break their lifecycle, they will 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. 

On top of scratching, pimples or red bumps can appear on your pet's belly, on their behind, on their groin or under their legs. The constant itching will also create cry skin and hair loss on their body. If left long enough, infections and lesions can develop and lead to more severe diseases.

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 can't find any fleas or signs of fleas, but your pet is still abnormally scratching, you should schedule an appointment with your vet. They will be able to administer tests for allergies to fleas and a whole host of other things, which might be causing this scratching. Your pet may be reacting to another type of allergy that's making them uncomfortable.  

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

There are many effective and safe options for flea treatment available. These can include topical liquids, sprays, shampoos and powders. You might have to see your vet for prescription creams or antibiotics if your pet has a more severe case. 

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. 

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

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