Does my pet have fleas?

Fleas aren’t the nicest of things that pet owners have to deal with, but they are something we need to deal with all the same. The earlier you can tell if your cat or dog has fleas the easier they are to get rid of.

We’ve spoken to our vets and put together a guide on how to spot fleas. It covers some of the main signs and mentions a few products that can help make your life a little easier.

So, what are some of the main signs of fleas?

Itching and scratching

Scratching can be a common behaviour in most animals, but it can also be a sign of fleas.

If you notice your pet chewing on their fur and scratching a lot, it’s possible they have fleas.

Excessive grooming and hair loss

This is more common in cats than dogs, but excessive self-grooming can be down to fleas. If the flea infestation is getting severe, this can lead to fur loss in certain patches.

You might notice fur loss on your pet’s back, which can suggest that fleas are the culprit.

Restlessness

Imagine if you had tiny insects jumping all over your body, it would be pretty hard to sit still. It’s the same for our furry friends.

Fleas can be downright agitating and can make your pet extremely stressed.

Does my pet have fleas - a dog and a kitten together

Check your pet

Fleas are pretty small so this does make them tricky to spot, especially if your cat or dog has thick, black fur.

Just because you can’t actually see them on your pet, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

Make sure you check thoroughly. Gently lie them down and thoroughly check their fur.

We recommend using a dedicated flea comb to do this, it makes things a lot easier.

If your pet has thick or long fur it can be difficult to look through their coat for fleas.

Use a detangling shampoo, such as Coatex, it helps detangle long coats and makes it a lot easier to spot any fleas calling your pet their home. You don’t want to be left thinking your pet doesn’t have any fleas just because their coat was in the way of you seeing them!

Fleas like to hang out behind the ears and near your pet’s tail, so be sure to check those areas well.

You want to look out for flea dirt on your pet’s skin, which would look a bit like black pepper. If you notice any small black spots on their skin, it’s likely your pet has fleas.

Check your home

Contrary to popular belief, fleas don’t just live on your pet. Many fleas and their eggs and larvae will be living in your home.

Here’s what to look out for when you’re walking around your house:

  • Little black dots on your pet’s bedding and anywhere else they like to sleep. This is usually “flea dirt” (flea poop). To double check that these black spots aren’t just household dirt, brush your pet over a piece of paper to catch what comes off. If it is flea dirt it will dissolve and leave only blood behind when wetted.
  • If your pet isn’t in the mood for a groom, try wearing white socks when walking around your house. Your socks can pick up flea dirt and even the fleas themselves.
  • Place a bowl of water in front of a night light and leave them near your pet’s bedding. When it turns to night time the fleas will be attracted to the light, and jump into the water. In the morning, check the bowl and if you see dead fleas you have proof they are lurking in your home.

If you do find evidence that fleas are calling your home theirs, they need to be eradicated straight away. This doesn’t just mean treating your pet, you need to treat the rest of the house too.

The nasty little critters like to leave their eggs in your pet’s bedding and in soft-furnishings and carpets. They can hatch at various times throughout the year (they particularly like to hatch when it gets warmer in your house, whether due to winter heating or the summer sun) so the best way to stay flea-free is by treating your house throughout the year.

The routine of checking for fleas is an important part of being a pet owner. If you’re concerned about it, it’s always best to speak with your vet.

Pets are full of surprises…but our pet insurance isn’t. Why not cover your furry friends throughout all of their adventures? Getting a pet insurance quote only takes a couple of minutes.

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