I've been posting quite a bit this summer about the fleas and ticks - including some general facts about the buggy pests as well as a more in depth look at their life cycles. Most pet owners with fuzzy pets, cats and dogs especially, know at least something about fleas - even if that something is, unfortunately, how annoying fleas can be to our pets, or how hard they can be to get rid of once your home is infested.
Not everyone knows exactly how to detect the presence of fleas in their home and on their pet(s). Learning some of the early signs can save you and your furry friend a lot of discomfort and frustration. The sooner you detect that your pet is being bugged by fleas, the sooner you can do something about it!
Signs your pet has fleas - What to look out for:
- Behavioral Signs: Keep an eye on how your pet behaves. While an itchy pet doesn't necessarily always have fleas, flea bites do cause skin to become itchy and irritated. Look for signs of increased or abnormal scratching, licking, biting, or chewing. Perhaps less obvious, pets plagued by fleas may act generally more restless than usual.
- Signs of Flea Bites on the Skin: Even in a pet who isn't acting particularly itchy, flea bites on the skin will typically look like small, red, raised bumps. Owners sometimes describe the bumps as looking like pimples, or mosquito bites. Common areas to find flea bites on your pet include the stomach, groin, rump, near the base of the tail, thighs, and armpits. Bites that are scratched may become more irritated and sometimes even infected. Flea bites, on some animals, can also cause the skin to look dry, and may cause fur loss. If your pet scratches his/her bites, they may become infected, or may bleed and scab over.
- Presence of Fleas: Of course the sure fire way to know that your pet's scratching is caused by fleas is by finding fleas themselves, or evidence of fleas (flea dirt - more about that in a minute). You can use a flea or fine toothed comb to brush your pet when looking for fleas. Have your pet stand on a white, or light colored, towel while you are grooming him/her. Any fleas or flea dirt that falls off will be more obvious against a light background.
What is flea dirt?
The presences of flea dirt on your pet, or in your home, is a definite sign that fleas are hanging around. But what exactly is flea dirt? How do you tell the difference between flea dirt and regular dirt? Once you detect flea dirt on your pet or in your home, how do you get rid of it?
- To put it bluntly, flea dirt is flea feces. Hey, even fleas gotta go! Each flea can consume up to 15 times their own weight in your pet's blood, making for a lot of flea dirt in your average flea infestation.
- Owners sometimes describe flea dirt as looking like grains of black pepper, dirt, or just black specks. Flea dirt is usually easiest to spot in areas where your pet's fur is thinner, such as the stomach, groin, or armpits.
- How do you tell if your pet is just dirty, or if the dirt is really flea dirt? Flea dirt is made up of digested blood, although it usually looks dried up and black. If you take a bit of flea dirt (use a flea comb to brush it off your pet), put it on a light colored surface such as a piece of paper, paper towel, cotton ball, etc, and spray it with water, it should start to look a bit more like blood. Flea dirt, when wet, will change to a reddish brown color. This is a good way to distinguish between flea dirt and regular dirt that your pet may have picked up outside.
- Flea dirt is not only present on your pet, but during a flea infestation will be throughout your home as well. You may notice it on bedding or light colored rugs.
- To eliminate flea dirt, bathe and/or brush your pet and vacuum/clean your home. Flea dirt isn't hard to get rid of. However, it's important to remember that flea dirt will continue to be present until you completely eliminate the source - the fleas themselves.
The easiest way to avoid having to deal with fleas and the dirt they leave behind is to prevent flea infestations in the first place! There are many types of flea preventatives on the market today. Talk to your pet's veterinarian if you are unsure about what product would be best for your pet.
If you’re looking for a simple, hassle free way to prevent fleas and ticks check out the Seresto collar. If used as directed, it prevents fleas and ticks for up to 8 months! Perfect for pet owners (Seresto is available for dogs and cats) who don’t want to fight with their pet to apply monthly flea preventative.
This post is sponsored by Bayer / Seresto and the Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about the Seresto product, but Paw Print Pet Blog only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Bayer / Seresto is not responsible for the content of this article.