The most common external parasite can make your pet irritable! Left untreated, they can even lead to infections and cause serious diseases. Our vets in Woburn list early signs of fleas, and what to do if your pet does have fleas.
What are fleas?
These external parasites depend on a host animal to survive. Unless pet owners take steps to break their lifecycle, adult fleas will keep reproducing and continue to thrive on your pet — and in your household.
What signs of flea infestation should I look for?
The protein in flea saliva can cause an allergic reaction in cats and dogs. This is why they often begin to scratch as soon as a flea bites their skin. Pets can be triggered to scratch excessively and become agitated as a result of even one flea bite.
Besides scratching, pimples or red bumps may appear on their belly, their groin, their behind, or under their legs, or at the base of the tail. The constant itching and scratching of these areas will lead to hair loss and dry skin. Lesions and infections can develop and lead to more serious 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.
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 there are no signs of fleas but your pet is still scratching, schedule an appointment with your vet, who can administer a skin test to check for flea allergies, in addition to other types of allergies during your visit. 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?
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 dog doesn't develop more serious issues in the future, as a result of fleas.