How Do I Know My Pet Has Fleas?

Fleas affect a wide variety of warm-blooded animals, including humans; and pets and fleas, it appears, have a primeval and permanent relationship. It’s a never-ending fight between humans versus nature, just like our struggle with the menace of mice and mosquitoes.

If you are a true pet lover, it’s important to remain well informed before starting flea and tick treatment for dogs. Let us see some flea facts first.

How Do I Know My Pet Has Fleas

Flea Facts

  • Fleas are tiny wingless insects about the size of a sesame seed (1.3 to 3.3 mm).
  • With 2000+ species found worldwide, fleas are a well-evolved species; two species, cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) and dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis) are a major concern for pet owners.
  • The adult female flea needs to gorge on blood in order to reproduce. Female fleas can lay over 5000 eggs during the lifetime.
  • Fleas can live over one year provided conditions – temperature (70 to 85 F), humidity (70%) and food (blood meal) are right.
  • Fleas are capable of jumping horizontally up to 13 inches and vertically up to 7 inches, making them one of the best jumpers of all animals (relative to body size).
  • Fleas transmit murine typhus and bubonic plague in humans.  Their saliva can cause flea allergy dermatitis and they can transfer tapeworms and cause anaemia in pets.

How Can You Tell if Your Pet Has Fleas?

Itching is the first sign of flea infestation. Many owners believe their pets have flea infestation if they scratch frequently but that is not always true. Pets scratch for a variety of reasons. Conversely, if your dog does not scratch it does not mean he is flea-free.

A better way to know your pet has flea infestation is to examine his skin, particularly the base of the ears and the rump under ample light.  You may perhaps see reddish-brown insects moving very fast, as adult fleas make only 5% of the flea population.

The best method however is to place a moist white tissue beneath the dog and comb his fur gently. Strike the comb on the tissue. If you find small black specks, those are flea droppings. Rub the droppings on the tissue. If there is a red spot (due to digested blood) on the paper, it sure is the sign of flea influx.

Once it is confirmed your dog has fleas, it is recommended to begin once-a-month topical treatment with Frontline Plus flea and tick solution.