Fleas are an incredibly common but very frustrating external parasite. If a flea infestation goes untreated it can cause a variety of serious conditions in your pet. Our Snellville vets talk about what the signs of a flea infestation are and how to treat and prevent fleas from affecting your cat or dog.
What Are Fleas?
Because fleas are a type of external parasite, it means that they are unable to survive without a host animal. Unless steps are taken to break their lifecycle, adult fleas will continue to reproduce and thrive on your pet as well as within your home.
What are the typical signs of a flea infestation?
It is common for cats and dogs to be allergic to the saliva from a flea as opposed to reacting to the bite itself. It takes as little as a single bite from a flea to cause your pet to be uncomfortable.
Besides scratching, red bumps or pimples may appear on their belly, at the base of their tail or on their behind, on their groin or under their legs. The constant itching and scratching of these areas will cause dry skin and hair loss. Lesions and infections can develop and lead to more severe diseases if fleas are left untreated.
What is the best way to check my pet for fleas?
Adult fleas are small and brown. This makes them relatively easy to see without the use of specialized equipment.
It's a good idea to check your pet's brush or comb while you're grooming them. Having your pet lie on their side will let you have a closer look at areas with thin hair, such as the abdomen.
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.
Why is my pet scratching but there's no sign of fleas?
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. It is possible that your pet may be reacting to something else in their daily life.
How can I treat my dog or cat for fleas?
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.