The most common external parasites are fleas and they can make you and your pet miserable! If they go untreated, they can cause serious diseases and infections. The Orange Park veterinarians discuss the early signs of fleas and what you can do when your pet has them.
What are fleas?
Fleas are a type of external parasite that need an animal host to survive. If the appropriate steps aren't taken to break their life cycle they will keep reproducing and thrive on your pet's skin and in your home.
What are the signs of flea infestation I should look for?
Dogs and cats might be allergic to a protein in flea saliva. This is the reason why animals scratch when the flea bites into their skin. A single flea bite can make your pet agitated and excessively scratch.
Other than scratching, red pimples and bumps might be found on your companion's stomach, behind, at the base of their tail or on their groin. Your pet's constant scratching and itching can cause hair loss and dry skin on these areas. Infection and lesions might develop and cause severe diseases if they are not treated.
How can I check my pet for fleas?
Adult fleas are fairly easy to spot with the bare eye and look small and brown.
Check your pet's brush or comb when you are grooming them to see if you can find any fleas. You can get a closer view of the areas with thinner hair (like the abdomen) when you have your pet lay on their side.
You might also find "flea dirt" which looks like small grains of sand or black pepper when it is wet. To look for flea dirt (feces) comb along your pet's underbelly and back with a fine-tooth flea comb which you can get from your vet's office. You can also stand your pet on a white cloth or towel while brushing them so you can detect any black droppings falling from their fur.
What if I can’t find any fleas, but my pet is still scratching?
If your dog or cat is still scratching and you can't spot any signs of fleas book an appointment with your veterinarian, who will be able to perform a skin test to look for fleas and other types of allergies during the visit. There is a chance your pet might be reacting to another type of allergy that is making them scratch and feel uncomfortable.
If my cat or dog does have fleas, how do I get rid of them?
There are several treatments that are safe and effective at eliminating fleas such as sprays, powders, topical liquids and shampoos. If your pet has a more severe case of fleas you might have to schedule an appointment with your vet to get prescription creams and antibiotics.
Prevention and early treatment of fleas are the first choice methods to make sure your dog or cat doesn't develop more serious conditions caused by fleas in the future.