How to Know Your Dog Has Fleas

By March 6, 2021 July 9th, 2021 Dogs

Fleas can cause a lot of health problems for dogs if they’re not caught and treated right away. Dogs will scratch at fleas, which can lead to hair and fur loss as well as irritation of the skin. Fleas can also transmit other parasites, such as tapeworms, to dogs. On top of that, if there are too many fleas biting a dog at once, the dog can become anemic, which can cause other medical complications that could result in the dog’s death.

Therefore, it’s essential to treat fleas as quickly as possible. But how can you tell if your dog has fleas?

Why Your Dog Is Scratching

Scratching is a pretty clear sign that your dog has fleas. Even if you don’t see fleas on your dog, if your dog is scratching or biting itself, fleas are the likely culprit. Fleas cause pain when they bite and their salivary glands excrete substances that can irritate your dog’s skin.

Can You See Fleas on Your Dog?

Flea dirt on dog fur

Adult fleas are typically around an eighth of an inch in length and are reddish-brown in color. They’re pretty small, so it can be difficult to see them, especially if your dog’s fur is a reddish-brown color. However, you can use a magnifying glass to see them if necessary. Keep in mind that for every one adult flea that you find, there are probably at least a hundred juvenile fleas present.

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What Are the Dark Specks on Your Dog?

Fleas leave behind dark specks that look a bit like pepper. This is called flea dirt and is actually feces from the fleas. You can see this on your dog, but also in areas your dog frequents, such as its bed, a favorite chair, or on the carpet. If you see a lot of these black spots where your dog has been, then it’s likely that your dog has fleas.

You can tell that flea dirt is from flea bites rather than just regular dirt by collecting some on a paper towel and sprinkling it with water. If it’s flea dirt, it will turn reddish-brown.

What Are the White Ovals on Your Dog?

Small white ovals in your dog’s fur or in the areas your dog frequents are also indicators of a problem. The white ovals are tapeworm or flea eggs. Fleas can pass tapeworms onto your dog as well as lay their own eggs. These eggs are a sign that your dog has fleas.

Can You Be Bitten by Fleas, Too?

Exam on pet

Fleas don’t just bite dogs. They can also bite humans. If there are fleas in the house, chances are good they’ll affect you, too. If you find itchy bites in a cluster or a line on your legs and ankles, then they’re probably from fleas. Fleas can also bite other areas, such as the waist or armpits, but the legs and ankles are the most common locations.

Can You Trap Fleas?

Another way to know that there are fleas is to set a trap. A light trap is one way to detect that there are fleas in your home. All you need to create a light trap is a small nightlight and a bowl of soapy water. Set the bowl on the floor near the nightlight. Fleas will be attracted to the light of the nightlight and then will fall into the bowl.

Can Your Vet Check for Fleas?

If you’ve looked for fleas on your dog, but can’t find any and your dog is still scratching, you should take your dog to the vet. The vet can check for flea allergies as well as other allergies to determine the true cause of the scratching. Your vet can also recommend treatment options to deal with the fleas and check for any health conditions your dog may have developed.

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