How to Detect Fleas on Your Dog

You may suspect your dog has fleas because you see more itching than usual. But how do you confirm it is fleas before taking drastic measures? 

The first thing to note is that fleas are most active in favorable weather. Thus, they are more likely in areas with a relative humidity of 70 percent and 35 degrees Celsius. However, they can also affect pets in cold environments when the temperatures rise.

Here are some tips to help you detect fleas on your dog.


Check Their Behavior

You will notice that your dog will become more restless than usual. It will lick, scratch, and chew more often. It will also shake its head and scratch its ears. They do this to relieve the discomfort as fleas jump and move on their bodies. In severe infestations, it is possible to spot the fleas as they jump on and off your dog’s body.


Inspect Their Coat and Skin


Fleas can jump very fast, so be keen as you inspect your dog. They are dark brown or almost black, with flat bodies. The more they ingest your pet’s blood, the lighter their color becomes.

Turn your dog on its back and check the areas where fleas can hide without detection. Check its groin, armpits, the base of the tail, and other hidden areas. They love these places because they are warm and have protection. 

The flea infestation will make the skin appear red and bumpy. You will also notice signs of scratching and blood behind the ears. In some situations, scratching may cause hair loss or black spots due to scabs. 


Use a Flea Comb

You can use a flea comb if you still cannot see the fleas. The comb has closely set teeth that catch and bring out fleas from your dog’s hair. Run it as close to the skin as possible. You will have a greater chance of removing the fleas from their hideout if you do this. Comb through your dog’s back and its legs. As you do this, ensure you have a bowl of soapy water to throw any live fleas.


Check for What Fleas Leave Behind

Sometimes, you may use a flea comb and still miss them. However, you will detect what the fleas leave behind. So that you do not miss this, place a white paper towel underneath your dog as you comb its hair. What will happen? Flea dirt may fall off the dog’s coat to the paper towel. The flea dirt or feces are dark in color. Therefore, it can be hard to tell them apart from the soil.

A trick you can use is to sprinkle some water on the dark specks. Digested blood from flea excrement will turn dark reddish-brown.


Check the Environment

Closely examine your dog’s favorite locations, bedding, and feeding area. Fleas do not just stay on the dog; they fall off into the environment around them. In these areas, you may also find tiny, white ovals.

These are flea eggs that hatch after every few days into larvae. The larvae will become pupa after three or four weeks and adult fleas after. They will look for a ride on your pet so that they can feed on its blood.

If you detect fleas, ask your vet for advice.

For more information, visit Cochise Animal Hospital at our office in Scottsdale, Arizona. Call (480) 991-2858 to book an appointment today.

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