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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 very common external parasites and have the ability to make cats and dogs miserable. They can even cause infections and serious diseases if they aren't treated promptly. Here, our Toledo vets share ways you can check your pet for fleas and how you can treat them.


Fleas are a common type of external parasite that needs to live on an animal host to survive. If you don't take the steps that are required to break the fleas' lifecycle, they will keep thriving and reproducing on your cat or dog and in your home.

Signs Your Cat or Dog Has Fleas

Your kitty or pup could have an allergy to the protein in flea saliva, which can make them scratch immediately after a flea bites into their skin. Just a lonely flea bite can make a cat or dog agitated and excessively scratch.

Other symptoms your furry friend may develop in addition to scratching include, red bumps or pimples that could develop at the base of their tail, on their groin, on their behind, or under their legs. If your pet continuously scratches at these locations they could develop dry skin and lose fur. Lesions and infections can arise or even result in more serious diseases if the fleas go without treatment.

Ways You Can Check Your Pet for Fleas

Adult fleas are small and brown in appearance. They are also fairly easy to see with the bare human 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 see "flea dirt". This looks similar to tiny grains of sand, or black pepper when wet. To check 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 will be able to easily see any black droppings that fall from their fur. 

When Your Pet is Scratching, But You Can't Find Fleas

If you can't detect any signs of fleas, but your animal companion is still scratching, call your vet to make an appointment. Your veterinarian will be able to conduct a skin test, to see if your cat or dog has a flea allergy or another type of allergy. 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

A number of safe and effective treatments can be used to eliminate fleas, including shampoos, sprays, powders, and topical liquids. If your animal's case is more serious you may have to see your vet so they can give your pet prescription creams or antibiotics.

Early treatment and prevention are the first methods of choice to ensure your cat or dog doesn't develop more serious issues in the future, as a result of fleas. 

If your pet has fleas, contact our vets in Toledo as quickly as possible because quick treatment is key. 

Welcoming New Patients

Shoreland Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our veterinary team is passionate about the health of Toledo pets and is looking forward to meeting you and your furry friend. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

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