Fleas are the most common external parasite found in Orlando, and can make your pet miserable! Left untreated, fleas lead to infections and cause serious diseases. Our vets explain the early signs of fleas on your pets, and what to do if your pet does have fleas.
What are fleas?
Fleas are external parasites that rely on a host animal for survival. Unless steps are taken to break the flea's lifecycle, they will continue to reproduce and thrive on your pet - and in your home.
What signs of flea infestation should I look for?
Cats and dogs are often allergic to the protein in flea saliva, which is why they start to scratch as soon as a flea bites their skin. Just one single flea bite may cause pets to scratch excessively and become agitated.
Besides scratching, red bumps or pimples may appear on your animal's 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 can result in 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, brown, and relatively easy to spot with the naked eye.
It's a good idea to check your pet's brush or comb whenever 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". This looks similar to tiny grains of sand, or black pepper when wet. To check for flea dirt (flea 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 can make it easier to spot any black droppings that fall from their fur.
What if I can’t see any fleas, but my pet is still scratching?
If there are no signs of fleas but your pet is still itching and 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. Your pet may be reacting to another allergen 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 can be used to eliminate fleas, including shampoos, sprays, powders and topical liquids. You may need to visit your vet for prescription creams and/or antibiotics if your pet's case is more severe.
Early treatment and prevention of fleas are the first methods of choice to ensure your dog doesn't develop more serious issues in the future.