Fleas are the most common external parasite, and they can be extremely unpleasant for your pet! They may even cause infections and serious diseases if left untreated. Our Westfield veterinarians discuss the early signs of flea infestation and how to treat your pet if it does have fleas.
What are fleas?
To survive, fleas need a host animal to feed on. Adult fleas will continue to reproduce and thrive on your pet and in your home unless they are killed.
What signs of flea infestation should I look for?
Flea saliva contains a protein that cats and dogs may be allergic to, which is why they scratch as soon as a flea bites them. Pets may scratch excessively and become agitated as a result of even a single flea bite.
Red bumps or pimples may appear on their belly, at the base of their tail, on their behind, in their groin, or under their legs, in addition to scratching. Dry skin and hair loss will result from the constant scratching and itching of these areas. If fleas are not treated, lesions and infections can develop, leading to more serious diseases.
How can I check my pet for fleas?
Adult fleas are small and brown in color. They are relatively simple to identify with the naked eye.
While you're grooming your pet, make sure to check their brush or comb. By laying your pet on their side, you can get a better look at areas with thin hair, such as the abdomen.
You might notice "flea dirt." When wet, this resembles tiny grains of sand or black pepper. To check for flea dirt (feces), comb along your pet's back and underbelly with a fine-tooth flea comb available at your vet's office. By brushing your pet while standing them on a white towel or cloth, you will be able to 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 still scratches despite the absence of fleas, make an appointment with your veterinarian, who can perform a skin test to determine if your pet has allergies to fleas or other types of allergies while you're there. Your pet's discomfort could be caused by an allergic reaction to something else.
If my cat or dog does have fleas, how do I get rid of them?
Fleas can be eliminated using a variety of safe and effective treatments, including shampoos, sprays, powders, and topical liquids. If your pet's condition is more severe, you may need to visit your veterinarian for prescription creams and antibiotics.
Early treatment and prevention are the primary methods for ensuring that your dog does not develop more serious problems as a result of fleas in the future.