Fleas are the most common external parasite, and they can make your pet extremely uncomfortable! If left untreated, they may even cause infections and serious diseases. Our veterinarians at Clarksville discuss the early signs of flea infestation and how to treat your pet if it does have fleas.
What are fleas?
Fleas are external parasites that feed on the blood of their host animals. Adult fleas will continue to reproduce and thrive on your pet – and in your home – unless preventative measures are taken to break their life cycle.
What signs of flea infestation should I look for?
Cats and dogs may be allergic to the protein in flea saliva, which explains why they scratch frequently following a flea bite. Even a single flea bite can cause pets to scratch excessively and become agitated.
They may develop red bumps or pimples on their belly, at the base of their tail, on their behind, in their groin, or between their legs in addition to scratching. Scratching and itching in these areas regularly will result in dry skin and hair loss. Without treatment, fleas can cause lesions and infection, which can progress to more serious diseases.
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.
Perhaps you've noticed "flea dirt." This resembles tiny grains of sand or black pepper when wet. To check for flea dirt (feces), use a fine-tooth flea comb available at your veterinarian's office to comb along your pet's back and underbelly. When brushing your pet while standing on a white towel or cloth, any black droppings that fall from their fur are easily visible.
What if I can’t find any fleas, but my pet is still scratching?
If there are no fleas but your pet continues to scratch, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. During your visit, your veterinarian can perform a skin test to check for flea allergies as well as other types of allergies. Your pet may be in pain as a result of another type of allergy.
If my cat or dog does have fleas, how do I get rid of them?
Fleas can be eliminated safely and effectively using a variety of products, including shampoos, sprays, powders, and topical liquids. If your pet's condition is more severe, you may need to seek prescription creams and antibiotics from your veterinarian.
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.