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How can I tell if my cat or dog has fleas?

How can I tell if my cat or dog has fleas?

Fleas are the most common external parasite found in pets and they are experts in making your companion miserable! They can also cause serious infections or diseases. Our Johns Creek vets will walk you through the early signs of fleas and what to do if they start living on your pet.

What are fleas?

Fleas are external parasites that rely entirely on their host for all aspects of their survival. Unless steps are taken to break their lifecycle, they will continue to thrive and reproduce on your pet and in your home. 

What signs of flea infestation should I look for?

Cats and dogs may be allergic to the protein in flea saliva, which is why they often start to scratch as soon as a flea bites their skin. Even one flea bite may cause pets to scratch excessively and become agitated. 

Besides scratching, red bumps or pimples may appear on their belly, at the base of their tail or on their behind, on their groin or under their legs. The constant itching and scratching of these areas will cause dry skin and hair loss. Lesions and infection can develop and lead to more severe diseases if fleas are left untreated.     

How can I check my pet for fleas?

Adult fleas are pretty easy to spot with your naked eye. They are small, thin and brown insects.

It's a good idea to check your pet's brush or comb while you're grooming them. Having your pet lie on their side will let you have a closer look at areas with thin hair, such as the abdomen. 

You might also be able to see flea feces (also known as "flea dirt") on and around you pet. This substance looks like small grains of sand or black pepper when it is wet. To check for flea dirt, brush your pet with a fine-toothed comb over a white sheet or towel. You should be able to detect it fairly easily as any black droppings fall from the your companion's fur. 

What 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.  

If my cat or dog does have fleas, how do I get rid of them?

There are many safe and effective treatments that you can use to eliminate fleas. These include powders, topical treatments, sprays and shampoos. If your pet has a more severe case, you may nneed to speak to you vet about getting a prescription cream or antibiotics. 

Early treatment and prevention should always be your choice methods to make sure your pet doesn't develop more serious conditions in the future caused by fleas.

Do you think your pet might have a case of fleas? Prompt treatment is key. Book an appointment with our knowledgeable veterinarians at Johns Creek Veterinary Clinic today.

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