Fleas are one of the most common external parasites in the world, and they are capable of making your pet miserable! If they aren't promptly treated, these parasites may cause infections or other serious diseases in your pet. Here, our Palmdale veterinary team explains what the early signs of fleas you should look for are, and what to do if you identify fleas in your pet.
What are fleas?
Fleas are external parasites that rely on a host animal for survival. Unless steps are taken to break their lifecycle, adult fleas will continue to reproduce and thrive on your pet - and in your household.
What signs of flea infestation should I look for?
Dogs and cats inPalmdale can often be allergic to a protein in the saliva of fleas. This is why they will often begin itching as soon as a flea bites their skin. Even just one flea bite may cause your pet to begin scratching excessively and become agitated.
Besides scratching, pimples or red bumps may also appear on your pet's belly, on their behind and around their groin. The constant itching they will do in response to the flea bites will also cause dryskin and hair loss. Infections and lesions may also develop and may lead to more serious diseases if the fleas aren't promptly treated.
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.
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.
What if I can’t find any fleas, but my pet is still scratching?
If your pet isn't showing any signs of fleas, but is still itching, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with your Palmdale veterinarian. They will administer testing on your pet's skin for a wide range of allergies (including allergy to fleas). Your poet may in fact be reacting to a different type of allergy which is making them uncomfortable.
If my cat or dog does have fleas, how do I get rid of them?
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 antibiotics if your pet's case is more severe.
Early identification, treatment and, if possible, prevention, are the first methods of choice in making sure that your cat or dog don't develop more serious health issues in the future which may be caused by fleas.