How to Tell if Dog Has Fleas? Checking for Pests

This article will explain how to tell if the dog has fleas - from the main signs of pests on your pet to detecting them in your home
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Last updatedLast updated: January 19, 2022
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Dogs, cats, and any other furry or feathery pets you have in your household are prone to fleas. A flea infestation may not be harmful to you, but it can cause great discomfort to your dog and your entire household. Fleas are external parasites that live on their host animal to survive. Once your dog is infested, the adult fleas rapidly reproduce and thrive until you break their lifecycle Trusted Source How Fleas Spread Disease Fleas are small insects that survive by feeding on animal or human blood. Their bites can cause discomfort, itchiness, and irritation. Sometimes, fleas can infect people or pets with the germs that cause flea-borne typhus, plague, or cat scratch disease. www.cdc.gov .

Even if your dogs never go outside, they can still get fleas. Luckily, there are common tell-tale signs that will let you know your dog is infested. If you see your dog itching more than usual and their skin is irritated or filled with scabs, it could be fleas. Inspecting your dog’s skin is the surest way of discovering a flea infestation. This article has in-depth details on how to tell if your dog has fleas.

Signs of Fleas on Dogs

The signs of a flea infestation on your dog are not hard to spot. Itching is the first common sign, but it could be an indicator for something else. Here are some of the signs you should watch out for.

Itching

According to industry professionals Trusted Source Allergy Flea Allergy Dermatitis In Dogs I was told that my dog has flea allergy dermatitis, but I have never seen a flea on him. How can he have flea allergy dermatitis? vcahospitals.com , Dogs are allergic to the protein found in flea saliva. For this reason, they itch and scratch every time a flea bites their skin. Just one flea bite can make your dog scratch excessively, which may lead to hair loss or dry skin.

Your dog will mostly itch in the groin area, under the legs, at the base of their tail, and on their belly. These are the flea favorite areas because they are warm and protected.

Biting

How to Tell if Dog Has Fleas? Checking for Pests

Fleas cause a sharp pain when they bite, and the allergic substance in their saliva irritates the dog so much that they respond by biting. If you notice your dog biting itself more than once in a day, it could be a sign of flea infestation.

Change of character

A sudden behavior change in your dogs could be an indicator of fleas. Your dog will not be able to tell you something is wrong, but by simply seeing the difference in their behavior patterns, you can tell something is off.

Check Your Dog for Fleas

Itching, biting, and change of character could be indicators of other complications. Checking your dog for fleas is the only way to be sure it is actually infested. Here are some more signs that will confirm your dog is suffering a flea infestation.

Skin bumps and redness

How to Tell if Dog Has Fleas? Checking for Pests

Do a thorough inspection of fleas on your dog’s skin. Fleas are tiny, dark insects. If you have a black dog, you will have to take a closer look because they can camouflage. Check the armpits and groin areas as they are flea favorite spots because of how warm and protected they are. To expose the skin, use your fingers to part the dog’s fur. If there are any fleas, you will notice that the skin looks red and bumpy from excessive scratching.

If you are lucky, you may see the fleas in action. They may scurry away or even jump.

Flea larvae

When inspecting your dog’s skin for fleas, you may encounter flea larvae which look like tiny worms and are off-white in color. They are about 2 to 2.5mm in length depending on whether they just hatched or are already cocooned and are developing into adults.

Combing

How to Tell if Dog Has Fleas? Checking for Pests

This is one of the best and easiest ways of detecting a flea infestation on your dog. Invest in the best flea comb and work it through your dog’s fur. Start the comb very close to the skin. The comb’s fine-tooth should be able to catch some fleas if there are any. Dispose of them in soapy water to ensure they don’t survive.

If you are looking for a high-quality flea comb, check out the Magic coat professional series comb for dogs. It is designed with extra-fine teeth for dependable pest removal. It is comfortable to use and is ideal for all types of coats.

Flea dirt

Flea dirt is another tell-tale sign of a flea infestation. If you notice some tiny black specks that look like ground black pepper on your dog’s skin, then you have an infestation. Flea dirt is just flea excrement, and you can distinguish it from ordinary dirt by observing it keenly on a white paper towel or sprinkling it with a little water then observing its color change. If it changes to a reddish dark brown then it is flea dirt.

Flea eggs and tapeworms

Flea eggs are oval and off-white in color. They easily fall off onto surfaces like the bed and carpets or anywhere your dog lays. You can easily spot them.

Dogs get tapeworms when they swallow fleas. Tapeworms are internal parasites and you can spot them anywhere your dog sits or sleeps as small grains of rice.

FAQ

How often should you check your dog for fleas?

You should check your dog for fleas year-round because an infestation can happen anytime. You can make a habit of checking for fleas during grooming and to be on the safe side, invest in good quality flea prevention treatment. The Adams Plus flea and tick prevention treatment remains the most acclaimed flea prevention solution for most pet owners because of its quick-drying formula that stays on and doesn’t rub off.

You can also use the Adams Plus flea and tick shampoo with Precor. It has a pleasant fresh scent and it contains an insect growth regulator that kills and prevents flea growth for up to 28 days.

What if the dog doesn’t have fleas yet still scratches a lot?

If your dog scratches a lot but you don’t find any fleas on them, take them to a vet for a skin test that may detect flea allergies or other possible allergies.

Final Thoughts

If you have seen your dog scratching, shaking their head, orbiting multiple times in the day, then you better check them for fleas. Fleas cause great discomfort and have health implications on the dogs if not detected and dealt with early. We have provided great hints and tips on how to tell if a dog has fleas. Dogs cannot stay still when infested with fleas because the flea bite is irritating. Sudden behavior changes are the first obvious hint.

When you confirm that your dog is infested with fleas, you must move fast to end their lifecycle. You can treat your dog with the best flea treatment then get the best flea trap or IGR for fleas for the rest of the house.

References

1.
How Fleas Spread Disease
Fleas are small insects that survive by feeding on animal or human blood. Their bites can cause discomfort, itchiness, and irritation. Sometimes, fleas can infect people or pets with the germs that cause flea-borne typhus, plague, or cat scratch disease.
2.
Allergy Flea Allergy Dermatitis In Dogs
I was told that my dog has flea allergy dermatitis, but I have never seen a flea on him. How can he have flea allergy dermatitis?
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