Companion Animal

Signs of Fleas and How to Prevent Them

Nov 3 • 3 minute read

Fleas are no fun. Not for your pets, who can scratch and bite themselves raw trying to get relief. And certainly not for you, since you have to deal with occasional bites and the hassles of treating your pets and getting rid of the pesky pests in your home.

Thankfully, the discomfort and annoyance of fleas can often be avoided. Read on and learn to recognize the signs of fleas on pets and how to prevent them.

Continuous Scratching and Biting

It is typical for pets to scratch or nibble their bodies as part of the grooming process. But if your pet appears to be scratching or biting at their fur more than usual, fleas may be the culprit. Fleas cause sharp pain when they bite and feed on your pet’s blood. Also, pets are allergic to the protein in flea saliva. Excessive scratching and biting are some of the ways they try to relieve that itchiness.

Loss of Fur

Hair loss is not from the fleas themselves, but from the excessive scratching and biting. It can also be caused by Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), which is an allergic reaction to flea saliva. The allergic response is seen as a painful and itchy rash. The back of the legs, the base of the tail, the neck, and the shoulder blades are some of the favorite hangout spots for fleas. Hair loss in these areas is a sign of fleas on your pet.

Flea Dirt, Eggs, and Larvae

Fleas will leave black pepper-like flakes known as flea dirt on your pet’s skin and fur, their bedding, your carpet, and furniture. The dirt you see is actually dried blood. If you notice tiny white ovals in your pet’s fur or in your home, they’re most likely flea eggs. Keep an eye out for larvae, too. They are little, squiggly white worms with brown heads.

Change in Behavior

A flea infestation can be the reason why your furry companion suddenly becomes fidgety. These little vampires will feed on your pet non-stop and can cause a great deal of irritation. Because of the inconvenience, you’re likely to notice your pet appearing more restless or anxious, grooming excessively, or avoiding certain areas of your home.

You Can See Them

Some flea problems are more obvious than others. Depending on your pet’s fur type and color, you might notice fleas in your pet’s fur. Adult fleas are reddish-brown and very tiny, about 1/8 inch long. They have long back legs, which make it easy for them to jump fast and far (at least 12 inches in a single leap).

How to Prevent Fleas

Fleas might be small, but they can lead to infections and transmit diseases to both humans and animals. Since pets frequently pick up fleas outside, here are a few ways to help prevent an infestation.

  • Stack wood neatly
  • Get rid of debris and weeds from your lawn
  • Avoid overwatering the lawn
  • Get rid of any clutter in your yard
  • Prune plants and mow grass regularly
  • Treat your yard with outdoor products for flea prevention
  • Brush and bathe your pet regularly
  • Talk to your vet about options for safe and effective flea medication

A regimen of vacuuming your home and washing cushion covers, bedding, blankets, and pillows that your pet lays is crucial to the overall effectiveness of your flea prevention program.

Take Your Dog to Regular Checkups

Getting your pet on a consistent form of flea prevention can make all the difference in their quality of life. Be sure to visit your vet for annual checkups, as well as recommendations for the best flea control products.

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