There are various kinds of external parasites and fleas are the most common. They have the ability to make your pet miserable and if they aren't treated quickly they can lead to serious infections and diseases. Today, our vets in San Jose share the early signs of fleas and the ways you can treat 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.
Are there any early signs of a flea infestation that I can watch for?
Your cat or dog could have an allergy to a protein in flea saliva, if your pet is allergic they will probably start scratching the moment a flea bites their skin. Just one little flea bite can make your pet agitated and excessively scratch.
Other than scratching, red pimples or bumps might appear on their belly, on their behind, under their legs, or at the base of their tail. If your pet constantly itches and scratches at these areas their skin will get dry and they will lose hair. Infection and lesions could also develop and cause more severe diseases if the fleas aren't treated.
How can I tell if my pet has fleas?
Adult fleas are small, brown, and fairly easy to see with the bare eye.
We recommend checking your pet's comb or brush while you are grooming them. You can also have your kitty or pooch lay on their side so you can get a better look at the areas that have thinner hair such as the abdomen.
You might also find "flea dirt". It looks like small grains of sand, or black pepper when wet. To find flea dirt (feces), use a fine-tooth flea comb (you can get one at your vet's office) to comb along your pet's back and underbelly. If you have your pet stand on a white towel or cloth while brushing them, you should be able to easily see any black droppings that fall off their fur.
What should I do if I can’t find any fleas, but my pet is still scratching?
If there are no signs of fleas but your pet is still 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 during your visit. Your pet may be reacting to another type of allergy that's making them uncomfortable.
How can I treat my cat or dog's fleas?
There is a variety of safe and effective treatments you can use to get rid of fleas, such as shampoos, sprays, powders, and topical liquids. You might have to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to get prescription creams and antibiotics if your cat or dog has a more severe case.
Early treatment and prevention are the first methods of choice to make sure your cat or dog doesn't develop more serious issues in the future, as a result of fleas.