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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 one of the most common external parasites in the world and are capable of making your pet absolutely miserable! If they aren't promptly treated, they may even cause infections or other serious diseases. Our Somerset vets explain early signs of fleas here and what to do if you pet does have fleas.

What are fleas?

Fleas are external parasites that almost entirely rely on their host animal for their survival. Unless specific steps are taken to break their lifecycle, adult fleas will continue to thrive on your pet, reproducing and feeding on them, and other members of your household. 

What signs of flea infestation should I look for?

Dogs and cats may allergic to a protein found in flea saliva, which is why they will often begin the scratch as soon as a flea bites their skin for the first time. Even just one flea bie may cause pets to aggressively scratch and become agitated. 

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 infection can develop and lead to more severe diseases if fleas are left untreated. 

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 also notice "flea dirt" on your pet. This substance looks simil;ar to small grains of san or, when wet, black pepper. To check your pet's coat for flea dirt (their feces), use a fine-toothed comb that you can usually get form a veterinary office to comb your pet's back and belly. By standing them on a white towel or cltoh whil brushing them in this wya, you should be able to easily see any flea dirt that drops from your pet's coat. 

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

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. Your pet may be reacting to another type of allergy that's making them uncomfortable.  

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

There are a number of safe and effective treatments that may be usable to elminate fleas. These range from sprays and pwoders to shampoos and topical liquids. If your pet's case is more severe, you may need to visit your veterinarian in order to get a precription cream or antibiotics too. 

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 that you pet may have developed a severe case of fleas? Promptly treating them is key to alleviating their discomfort and breaking the parasites' lifecycle.  Book an appointment at Spinnaker Veterinary Clinic today.

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Spinnaker Veterinary Clinic welcomes cats, dogs, and their people to our clinic! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Somerset companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's appointment.

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