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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 the most common external parasite and they are capable of making your life miserable. If untreated, they may even lead to infections and cause serious diseases. Here, our Moreno Valley vets explain the early signs of fleas and what to do if they infest your pet.

What are fleas?

Fleas are external parasites that rely on a host animal for survival. Unless steps are taken to break their lifecycle, adult fleas will continue to reproduce and thrive on your pet - and in your household. 

What signs of flea infestation should I look for?

Dogs and cats may be allergic to a protein in fleas' saliva. Because of this, they often begin scratching as soon as a flea bites them. Even just one flea bite is often enough to cause them to aggressive scratch and become agitated. 

On top of the scratching, your pet may develop red bumps or pimples on their belly, at the base of their tail and on their groin. The frequent itching can also lead to dry skin and hair loss. If untreated, fleas may also cause infections or lesions to develop and cause even more severe diseases or conditions. 

How can I check my pet for fleas?

Adult fleas are small and brown. They are relatively easy to spot with the naked eye. 

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. 

What if I can’t find any fleas, but my pet is still scratching?

If you can't find any signs of fleas, but your pet is still scratching, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to administer a skin test in order to check for flea allergies among others. Your pet may actually be reacting to another kind of allergy that is making them uncomfortable.

If my cat or dog does have fleas, how do I get rid of them?

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. 

Do you think your dog may have a severe case of fleas? Prompt treatment is key. Contact our vets at Sunnymead Veterinary Clinic today.

New Patients Welcome

Sunnymead Veterinary Clinic always welcomes new patients to our veterinary family! Our vets are passionate about providing quality healthcare to Moreno Valley animals. Contact us today to book an appointment, or visit for walk-in service.

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(951) 242-4056