Fleas are the number one pest to both dogs and cats. Fleas can live a long time without food, but they must have blood from a host animal to live and reproduce. Since they have no wings, fleas can’t fly—but they can jump 150 times their own length. Consequently, they can easily jump on your pet or on you. Fleas and flea eggs can be brought into your home if they’ve jumped on your pet or if your pet has caught a wild animal. They can even be brought in on your clothing, shoes, or on items that have come in contact with the ground.
Even if you don’t see a flea, there are other signs that could signal that your pet may have fleas. If your pet scratches incessantly, your pet could be reacting to flea bites. This is called flea bite dermatitis. When a flea sucks the blood of your pet, it leaves behind saliva containing itch-causing enzymes and other compounds which causes an allergic reaction in some pets. If it continues long enough, your pet’s skin may also become red and sore, and it may eventually result in mild to severe hair loss.
Another sign is if small, black specks appear on your pet’s fur. These are easier to spot if your pet has light colored fur. These black specks are flea dirt, or flea feces.
Fleas can be found anywhere on your pet, but they’re most easily seen on their belly or inner thigh areas. Sometimes, you can also spot them on their head or nose. If you suspect that your dog or cat has fleas, it’s important to begin treatment immediately. Your veterinarian or professional groomer will be happy to give you advice on how to rid your pet of fleas.
Fleas are hardy parasites and it may take several applications of flea control products to rid your pet of this problem. However, with persistence and determination, the battle can eventually be won.