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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?

Of all the external parasites, fleas are one of the most common. If you don't have your pet's fleas treated quickly they could cause infections and serious diseases. Today, our vets in Harlingen discuss the early signs of fleas, and how you can get rid of them.


Fleas are external parasites that need an animal host to survive. Unless you take the proper steps to break their lifecycle, the adult fleas will keep reproducing and thriving on your pet and in your home 

Signs of a Flea Infestation

Cats and dogs can have an allergy to a protein in flea saliva, which can make them scratch immediately after being bitten by a flea. Just one flea bite can make pets agitated and scratch excessively. 

Other than scratching, red bumps or pimples could develop at the base of your pet's tail, on their belly, on their behind, on their groin, or under their legs. Continuous itching and scratching at these areas will lead to dry skin and hair loss. Lesions and infections can also occur and cause more severe diseases if the fleas go untreated. 

Checking Your Cat or Dog for Fleas

Adult fleas are small and brown. They are fairly easy to see with the naked eye. 

You can check your cat or dog's brush or comb when you're grooming them. Having your animal lay on its side will let you get a closer look at areas that have thin hair, such as the abdomen. 

You might find "flea dirt". This looks similar to tiny grains of sand, or black pepper when wet. To check for flea dirt (feces), use a fine-tooth flea comb available at your vet's office to comb along your pet's back and underbelly. By standing your pet on a white towel or cloth while brushing them, you will be able to easily see any black droppings that fall from their fur. 

You can’t find fleas on Your Pet & They are Still Scratching

If you can't find any signs of fleas, but your kitty or pooch is still scratching, call your vet to make an appointment. Your vet will be able to conduct a skin test to check for flea allergies, as well as other kinds of allergies during your visit. Your furry friend could be reacting to another type of allergy that's making them uncomfortable.  

How to Get Rid of Your Cat or Dogs Fleas

A number of safe and effective treatments can be used to eliminate fleas, including shampoos, sprays, powders, and topical liquids. You may need to visit your vet for prescription creams and antibiotics if your pet's case is more severe. 

Early treatment and prevention are the first methods of choice to ensure your pet doesn't develop more serious issues in the future, as a result of fleas. 

If your cat or dog has fleas contact our knowledgeable vets in Harlingen today to schedule an appointment.

Welcoming New Patients

Our vets at Altas Palmas Animal Clinic are now accepting new patients! Our veterinary team is passionate about keeping the cats and dogs of Harlingen happy and healthy. Contact us today to schedule your pet's first appointment.

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