Out of all the external parasites that can make your pet miserable fleas are the most common. If fleas are left untreated, they can cause infections and lead to some dangerous diseases. Here, our Knightdale vets discuss the early signs of fleas, and what you can do if your pet has them.
What Are Fleas?
Fleas are external parasites that need an animal host such as a cat or dog to survive. Only if you take the necessary steps to break the flea's life cycle will you be able to get rid of them, otherwise, they will keep reproducing and thriving on your animal and in your home.
The Signs of a Flea Infestation
Your cat or dog could be allergic to a protein in flea saliva which is the reason why your pet start's to scratch and become irritated just after being bitten by a flea.
Other than scratching, red bumps or pimples could appear at the base of your pet's tail, on their belly, on their behind, under their legs, or on their groin. Continuous itching and scratching of these areas will lead to dry skin and hair loss. Lesions and infections can develop and lead to more severe diseases if fleas are left untreated.
How to Check Your Pet For Fleas
Adult fleas are small and brown and are fairly easy to spot with the naked eye.
A good idea is to check your cat or dog's brush or comb while you are 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 might find "flea dirt". This looks like tiny grains of sand, or black pepper when wet. To check your pet 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 cat or dog on a white towel or cloth while brushing them, you will be able to easily see any black droppings that fall from their fur.
When There are No Fleas and Your Pet is Scratching
If there aren't any signs of fleas but your pet is still scratching, book an appointment with your primary care veterinarian, who will be able to 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.
How to Get Rid of Your Cat or Dog's Fleas
There are various safe and effective treatments available 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.