Signs & Symptoms of Fleas

Fleas can make your dog or cat miserable and lead to more serious health issues if left untreated. Today our Asheville vets share the signs of flea infestations, and how to treat fleas on your pet.

What are fleas?

Fleas are common external parasites that depend upon host animals for their survival. Pets can be ideal hosts for fleas. 

What signs of flea infestation should I look for?

Itching and scratching are generally the first sigh that your dog or cat may have fleas. Just one flea bite can cause pets to scratch excessively and become agitated.

Another common sign that fleas may be living on your pet are bumps or pimples on your pet's behind, groin, belly, under the legs, or at the base of their tail.

Hair loss and patches of dry skin may also appear if your pet is scratching. If left untreated, lesions and infection can develop and lead to more severe health issues for your pet.

How can I check my pet for fleas?

Adult fleas are small, brown and relatively easy to spot on most pets. Groom your pet regularly and make it a habit to check your pet's comb or brush frequently for signs of fleas. 

For a closer look, have your pet lie on their side and check thinly-haired areas around their tummy and abdomen.

Also watch for adult flea feces (or flea dirt) while you are grooming your pet. Flea dirt looks similar to black pepper or tiny grains of sand that turn red when wet. Use a fine-toothed flea comb, available from your vet, to comb along your pet's underbelly and back. Having your pet stand on a white towel while you brush them can make spotting flea dirt easier. 

What if my pet is still scratching but I can find fleas?

If there are no signs of fleas but your pet still seems itchy and uncomfortable, make an appointment to see your veterinarian. Your vet can administer a skin test to check for flea allergies as well as other allergies that could be causing your pet's discomfort. 

How can I get rid of fleas on my dog or cat?

Adult fleas will continue to breed and thrive on your pet, and in your home, until you intervene and interrupt their lifecycle. 

Flea treatments and preventions are available in a variety of formulations, from powders and sprays to shampoos and topical liquids. In severe cases, you may need to contact your vet who can prescribe creams and antibiotics to help kill fleas and make your pet feel better.

Prevention and prompt treatment are essential for ensuring that your pet doesn't develop more serious issues down the road. Flea prevention medications are available from your vet. Contact your veterinary clinic to find out which prevention method is best for your dog or cat.

To find out more about flea and other parasite prevention for your pet, contact your Asheville vet today.

Preventing and treating fleas on pets, Asheville Vet

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