Are Cat and Dog Fleas the Same and What Do They Look Like?

Did you know that in the UK 1 in 5 cats and 1 in 10 dogs have fleas at any given time?1

Scary thought, isn’t it.

There are about 2,500 species of fleas but only a few of them are of importance to our pets. The cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) and the dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis) are different flea species, but they look very much alike: their differences can really only be seen when under a microscope so to the naked eye they look the same.

However, in more than 90% of cases, the cat flea is found on cats and dogs2.

This is because the cat flea is not host specific and can take its blood meals and thrive on various animals other than that of their namesake’s: dogs, cats, foxes, rabbits, rodents, etc. The dog flea is regarded as less important as it is more specific and rarely found on animals other than dogs, although they can live on other species. Both dog and cat fleas can bite humans (ouch!).

Are Cat and Dog Fleas the Same and What Do They Look Like?

Here are some key facts about dog and cat fleas:

1. Cat fleas are more common than dog fleas, even on dogs. One study in the UK claimed that 93% of fleas on dogs were cat fleas and only 1.5% were dog fleas.1

2. Female fleas can lay up to 50 eggs per day – that’s more than 1,000 eggs in only 3 weeks!

3. Both cat and dog fleas are carriers of the common tapeworm parasite, which affects both dogs and cats and is transmitted when pets swallow fleas whilst grooming.

4. Cat and dog fleas cause the same symptoms on their hosts: red skin and excessive itching. Allergic reactions to flea saliva (flea allergy dermatitis) can occur with both types of fleas.

So, what do these little critters look like in reality?

Take a look at our handy video, showing you how these blood sucking hitchhikers appear up close, with a tale of how quickly they can multiply if left untreated.

What do fleas look like?


Take a look at our articles here if you’d like to learn more about how to tell if your dog has fleas or where fleas come from.

1. Bond et al. Vet Rec. (2007) 160, 503–506
2. Guaguere, Beugnet, Dermatoses parasitaires in Guide Pratique de Dermatologie Canine. Ed Kalianxis. 2006;181-231.


This article is sponsored by FRONTLINE® Plus

Nowhere is flea-free this summer and you need to think about protecting your pet and home. Fleas lay eggs that fall off your dog, hatch and infest your home. FRONTLINE Plus not only kills fleas but stops flea eggs from hatching too. And it also kills ticks.

Are Cat and Dog Fleas the Same and What Do They Look Like?
Enjoy your summer and keep your dog healthy with the help of FRONTLINE®. Available from pet retailers and pharmacies.
Are Cat and Dog Fleas the Same and What Do They Look Like?

FRONTLINE Plus contains fipronil and (S)-methoprene. Legal Category: NFA-VPS (UK). FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of Merial. For further information refer to the datasheet or contact Merial Animal Health Ltd, CM19 5TG, UK. ©Merial Ltd 2017. All rights reserved. Merial is now part of Boehringer Ingelheim. Use medicines responsibly.

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