Fleas can be irritating and annoying for you and your pet! Especially if you enjoy sleeping with your dog, you want to be sure that your pet is flea-free. If your dog is itchy, this is one of the first signs of fleas. Sometimes, it may mean another issue, but typically, if you find your furry buddy scratching themselves more than usual, it’s most likely fleas. Here are a few more signs that you may indicate that your dog has fleas:
There are a few places that fleas enjoy spending their time. The first place to check is on your dog’s belly. Give your pup a good belly scratch and flip through the thinner hair of the belly. If you see a small black bug crawling on your dog’s belly, this is likely a flea. Fleas on dogs also enjoy spending time on dogs’ backs, so you can also try flipping through the hair just above the tail to check for fleas.
Another method to check for fleas is using a flea comb. Run the flea comb along your dog’s back and sides. If your dog has fleas, you will either catch a live flea in the flea comb or find flea dirt. Flea dirt is essentially flea poop or digested blood from where they have been feeding on your dog. To differentiate between dirt and flea dirt, place the debris on a white paper towel and put some hydrogen peroxide on it. If the debris turns from black to red, then you have just discovered flea poop!
Some dogs can be highly allergic to fleas. Even just one flea can cause an allergic reaction in a dog allergic to fleas. Allergies in dogs are common, and the right vet-approved allergy chews for dogs can help keep symptoms at bay. To learn more about allergy medications in dogs, check out this guide to dog allergy medication.
Some signs that your dog may have a flea allergy include:
If you suspect your dog has a flea allergy, I strongly recommend visiting a veterinarian. They can prescribe your dog fast-acting medications to kill any fleas on your dog and prescribe medications to give your dog some relief from the incessant scratching. Your veterinarian may also need to prescribe antibiotics to your dog if they have a skin infection secondary to the flea allergy.
The good news is that there are many effective and safe flea medications available for purchase at your veterinary clinic or online. One of the most effective flea solutions is topical or oral flea preventatives. The CDC also offers solutions including treating the home environment or pet bedding. The following suggestions will ensure that you will likely never have to battle with fleas again!
The single most effective way to get rid of fleas and prevent them from coming back is to keep your dog on a year-round flea preventative. Year-round is the key to effective flea treatment. Fleas can survive in the winter months inside and around homes, and some of the worst flea infestations I have witnessed have actually been in the winter months.
There are many safe flea options available. Some over the counter dog flea medication options that I recommend include:
There are other dog flea medication options available with a prescription from your veterinarian:
If you leave your pet on year-round flea prevention, then you will likely not need to treat the home with chemicals. If you are having an issue with a flea infestation, I recommend consulting with your veterinarian and a local pest control company. They may recommend that you have your yard sprayed or your home treated for fleas.
When you are having an issue with fleas, it is important to wash your pet’s bedding regularly with hot water. This will kill any immature fleas or flea eggs that may be on your pet’s bedding. For easy to wash bedding, check out Alpha Paw’s Cozy Calming Pet Bed.
If you see one adult flea, there are likely hundreds more eggs and immature fleas in your home. It is important to vacuum every few days when you are having an issue with fleas. Dispose of the vacuum bag in an outside trash can after vacuuming.
If there are fleas on your dog, you should either speak with your veterinarian or try one of the flea solutions described above. It is pretty normal to continue seeing a few fleas for a month or two after you start these medications. If fleas are persistent or if you think your dog may be allergic to fleas, I recommend scheduling an appointment with your veterinarian.
The medical, nutritional, or behavioral advice we provide is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Our editorial content is not a substitute for formal or personalized medical advice from a veterinary professional. Only board-certified veterinary specialists who have examined your pet should diagnose medical conditions, provide personalized treatment, or prescribe appropriate medication. For questions regarding your pet’s health, or if your pet is exhibiting signs of illness, injury, or distress, contact your veterinarian immediately. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on our site.