There are many reasons why you need to know if your dog has fleas. Aside from the impact on your dog’s health, who really wants to picture that bloodthirsty bogeyman in the shape of a hitchhiking flea crawling around your pet! Are you itching at the thought?
I always assumed spotting fleas would be quite easy to be honest. In fact, it’s not that easy at all, and it’s even more difficult to spot fleas or flea dirt on dogs with darker coats.
With summer upon us and the risks of fleas and other parasites, such as ticks, increasing, I find this very interesting and here’s how to help you tell if your dog has fleas so you can avoid that panic and keep your dog (and home) flea-free.
Know where to look
Groom your dog regularly and pay specific attention to flea hot-spot areas, such as around their head and back of their ears, along their back and at the base of their tail.
Top tip from experts at FRONTLINE® Plus: “In the search for fleas, part the fur using a comb and inspect around the roots of the hairs. This is where fleas love to hide and where you will spot any tell-tale flea droppings (flea poo!). You can spot fleas, usually moving fast on your dog, by their dark brown colour.”
Checking long haired & dark coated dogs for fleas
If your dog has a dark, long or thick coat, groom them with a white towel to the side or underneath so loose hairs and potential flea dirt falls onto the white towel.
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Identifying flea dirt
Flea dirt can be easily identified because it looks like black pepper. If you notice these black specks on your dog, put some on white paper or kitchen roll and pour a spot of water on. If a halo of red appears around any of them, it’s flea dirt.
If your dog continues to scratch and you can’t find any trace of fleas, it’s worth visiting your vet. Your dog could have a seasonal allergy or it could be that they had fleas and developed an allergy to them, resulting in a fairly miserable time for them with sore, itchy skin.
Prevention is better than cure
Treating preventatively is the best way to combat fleas, stopping an infestation building up on your pet and in your home.
But if you treat your dog for adult fleas only, then within a matter of weeks those flea eggs which dropped around your home will be hatching and infesting your home.