1 min. read

How to spot if your pet has fleas

Bo Vanbeselaere (Veterinarian)

Most pet owners fear the threat of fleas and it’s true that our furry friends are prone to itchy infestations. But how can you tell if your four-legged friend has fleas?

Some dogs and cats won’t be that bothered by fleas and will only itch a little bit around their lower back & tail base. However, other pets may develop very strong red, inflamed skin reactions, which can be the product of a flea allergy (mostly to the saliva of the fleas). It is important to note that those pets who are not so troubled by bits, can be an important source of fleas for your other pets. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to every pet in your house, not just those exhibiting symptoms. If your pet isn’t allergic to fleas, it may be difficult to spot the signs of an infestation. Fleas themselves are hard to see – they’re light shy and tend to crawl deep into an animal’s coat as quickly as they can. The best way to check if your pet has fleas is to use a flea comb to brush your dog or cat’s coat onto a damp tissue or a kitchen roll. You’ll quickly expose hidden flecks of flea poop, which will turn reddish brown when it dissolves.

Know your enemy - what are fleas?

Fleas are tiny insects that survive as parasites on animals like cats and dogs, living off the blood of their hosts. They’re flightless but nimble enough to leap from animal to animal. Fleas can really make an animal’s life miserable due to incessant itching and discomfort. A flea can make its way into your home via an unsuspecting animal or person. Then, as long as there’s something to feast on, they’ll make a home for themselves, laying eggs on their host (which will fall off onto the carpet or soft furnishings) or in the surrounding environment. From that egg, a larva and then flea develops.The larvae crawl into or under carpets and will hide themselves in little cracks and small openings. The larva pupates and a few weeks to a year later (depending on temperature and other factors), an adult flea will emerge.

Also interesting: How to Prevent Fleas on Dogs and Cats
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