Fleas are nasty little parasites that can bite and suck blood, which leads to itching and discomfort for your pet. They can cause diseases and can even bite humans! To keep their pets and loved ones safe and healthy, every pet owner should familiarize themselves with the signs and symptoms of a flea infestation.
What can start out as excessive itching and scratching can turn into hair loss and major irritation for your dog or cat. The team at East Sacramento Veterinary Center has put together some ways to identify if fleas have made their home in your pet’s fur (or elsewhere in your household), and how to get rid of them.
Signs of a Flea Infestation
In order to get rid of fleas before they become a BIG problem, it is important to recognize the signs of an infestation. If your pet has fleas, you might notice:
Itchy, Scratching or Biting: Your pet may be itching, scratching or biting at their fur more than usual. This is because when fleas bite, their saliva leaves behind a substance that is irritating to your pet’s skin and causes itching.
Visible Fleas: There are more than 2,500 different species of fleas, and the most common ones can actually be visible to the human eye when they are mature. They are a reddish-brown color, with black legs. While it might be difficult to spot them, sometimes they are visible on your pet’s fur. Keep in mind that even though you may spot some of them, chances are there are more, smaller, underdeveloped fleas that are also on your pet’s skin.
Flea Dirt: Fleas leave behind a substance known as “flea dirt” that can be found in your pet’s fur, on their bedding, or even on your carpet. It looks like pepper, and usually can be found wherever your pets hang around if the infestation is bad enough.
Help! My Pet Has Fleas. Now What?
First and foremost, it is always best to consult your veterinarian first if you discover fleas on your pet. They can help you accurately determine the next steps of care for your furry family member.
If your pet already has fleas, an over-the-counter flea preventive may still kill some of them. However, there is a chance your pet will need a prescription medication to get rid of them entirely.
In the meantime, here are some other things you can do to help keep them comfortable:
Give Your Pet a Bath: Lukewarm water and shampoo can help reduce some of the fleas that are on their fur.
Comb Your Pet’s Fur: You can purchase special flea combs that are designed to catch the fleas in their fur, while still allowing the fur to pass through the comb. Flea combs can also help get rid of the excess flea dirt left behind on your pet.
Get Rid of the Fleas in Your Home: Wash your pet’s bedding, blankets, and soft toys in warm, soapy water. Wash your own bedding, rugs, and any blankets or cushions where your pet likes to lay. You should also vacuum your house including carpet, tile, hard floors, kitchen mats, and long curtains. You may need to do this several times or several days in a row. Consider calling an exterminator if the infestation is really bad.
Prevention is the Best Form of Treatment
The best way to handle fleas is to prevent them! Talk to your East Sacramento veterinarians about which flea and tick prevention is the best for your beloved pet. You can also do regular checks on your pets fur and continue with regular grooming and hygiene best practices, for overall pet wellness.
The team at East Sacramento Veterinary Center is here to help your pet stay healthy and flea-free! Call us right away at 916-347-5356 if you think your pet may be struggling with fleas or any other unwanted parasite.