Fleas are a very common external parasite and are capable of making your pet absolutely miserable. If they are left untreated, they may even cause infections and serious diseases. Here, our Goleta vets explain what early signs of fleas you should look out for and what action to take if your pet becomes a host for fleas.
What are fleas?
Fleas are external parasites that rely on their host animal for their survival. Unless you take steps to break fleas' lifecycle yourself, they will continue to thrive and reproduce on your pet and in your household.
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 fleabite may cause pets to scratch excessively and become agitated.
Besides scratching, pimples and red bumps may appear on your pet's belly, at the base of their tail, or on their behind. Their constant itching of these areas can cause hair lsos or dry skin over time. If left long enough, your pet may even develop infection and lesions or even more serious 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 generally a good idea to check your pet's brush or comb while grooming them. Having your pet lie on their side will allow you to take a close look at areas with thin hair, like their abdomen, to give you a better shot at spotting these parasites.
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 your pet is scratching or itching more than normal, make sure that your schedule an appointment with your vet, who will be abel to administer a skin test to check for flea allergies. At this visit, your vet will also check for other kinds of allergies too. It may be that your pet is reacting to another kind of allergy that is causing them significant discomfort.
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.