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How can I tell if my cat or dog has fleas?

How can I tell if my cat or dog has fleas?

Fleas are a very common external parasite, that has the ability to make your cat or dog miserable! If you don't have your pet's fleas treated quickly, they can cause infections as well as serious diseases. In this blog, our Orange vets share the early signs of fleas, and the steps you should take if your pet has them. 


Fleas are external parasites that need an animal host to survive. Unless you take the proper steps to break the flea's lifecycle, the adult fleas will keep reproducing and thriving on your pet - and in your home. 

The Signs of a Flea Infestation

Cats and dogs can have an allergy to the protein in flea saliva, which makes them start scratching immediately after being bitten by a flea. Just one lonely fleabite can make a pet agitated and excessively scratch. 

Other than scratching red bumps or pimples could arise at the base of your pet's tail, on their belly, on their behind, on their groin, or under their legs. The continuous itching and scratching of these areas can lead to dry skin and hair loss. Infections and lesions can also develop and lead to more severe diseases if fleas go untreated. 

Checking Your Cat or Dog for Fleas

Adult fleas are small, brown, and fairly easy to spot with the naked eye. 

We recommend checking your pet's brush or comb when you are grooming them. If you have your pet lay on their side, you can get a closer look at areas that have thin hair, such as the abdomen. 

You might find "flea dirt". It looks like tiny grains of sand, or black pepper when wet. To look 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 and have your pet stand on a white towel or cloth while brushing them. By doing this you should be able to easily see any black droppings that fall from their fur. 

What to do if You Can’t Find Fleas & Your 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.  

How to Get Rid of Your Cat or Dog's Fleas

There are several safe and effective treatments you can use to eliminate fleas, including shampoos, sprays, powders, and topical liquids. You might have to visit your vet for prescription creams and antibiotics if your pet has a more severe case. 

Early treatment and prevention are the first methods of choice to ensure your cat or dog doesn't develop more serious issues in the future, as a result of fleas. 

If your cat or dog's fleas are severe contact our vets at Vet4HealthyPet Animal Hospital today because prompt treatment is critical.

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If you are looking for a veterinarian in Orange contact us at Vet4HealthyPet Animal Hospital today, to schedule your cat or dog's first appointment! Our vets are passionate about what they do and always provide the best possible veterinary care.

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