Out of all of the external parasites, fleas are the most common, they can make your pets very irritated. If they aren't treated they can cause serious diseases and infections. In this blog, our Louisa vets discuss how you can detect fleas early and how you can help.
What are fleas?
Fleas are external parasites that need an animal host to survive. If you don't take the required actions to break the flea's lifecycle they will keep reproducing and thriving on your animal companion and in your home.
What are the signs of a flea infestation?
Cats and dogs could be allergic to the protein in flea saliva, which is why they often start scratching as soon as a flea bites their skin. Even a single fleabite can make your pet scratch excessively and become agitated.
Besides scratching, red bumps or pimples may appear on their belly, at the base of their tail, 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 could develop and lead to more severe diseases if fleas go untreated.
How to check your pet for fleas
Adult fleas are small and brown. They are typically easy to spot with the naked eye.
It's a good idea to check your pet's comb or brush 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 look 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 should be able to easily find any black droppings that fall from their fur.
What if I can’t find any fleas, but my pet is still scratching?
If there aren't any signs of fleas but your pet is still scratching, book 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 might be reacting to another type of allergy that's making them uncomfortable.
If my cat or dog does have fleas, how can I get rid of them?
There are various treatments available that are effective and safe to help you get rid of fleas such as powders, topical liquids, shampoos, and sprays. If your pet has a more severe case you might have to bring them to your vet to get prescription antibiotics and creams.
Preventing fleas and early treatments are the methods you should choose first so your cat or dog's fleas doesn't cause more serious issues.