Is your dog jumpy? Has your cat been doing even more grooming
than usual? These could be tip-offs that your pet has caught
fleas. As well as causing your pet discomfort, fleas can lead
to diseases, and a cat or dog with fleas can spread the pests
around your home. Find out what it is like for your pet to host
fleas, and learn to recognize the signs that fleas are
tormenting your cat or dog.
Bites Are More Than Just Itchy
Fleas, like mosquitoes, bite for sustenance -- your pet’s blood
is a flea’s dinner. Along with their saliva, fleas inject an
anticoagulant chemical when biting. This anticoagulant is an
irritant, causing redness and itching. For some pets and
people, the bites won’t be a big deal, but for many pets, the
bites are more than just a nuisance.
Fleas bite frequently, and new generations of fleas are born
and develop quickly into adults. Given the volume of bites,
pets can potentially grow anemic from the depletion of blood.
If your cat or dog is extremely lethargic and has pale gums,
this is a tip-off that your pet may have fleas. Fleas can also
carry diseases and transmit them through bites, making them a
carrier of problems like a tapeworm.
Flea bites can start to resemble
hives and welts. Grooming may become somewhat obsessive and
incessant as your pet tries to solve the flea problem. Rather
than eliminating the problem, excessive grooming can lead to
hot spots and hairless patches of
fur on your cat or dog. In particular, you may see your pet
lick, bite, and gnaw a lot around their paws.
Behavior Changes Caused by Flea Bites
Fleas can also cause your pet to behave differently -- your cat
or dog might seem very skittish and jumpy in response to bites
and discomfort. And, you might notice your pet avoiding certain
previously comfortable spots in the house, which might be
associated with fleas and mites.
Fleas Make Pets their Home
Unlike mosquitoes, fleas will persistently stick around, making
a pet a host animal and feeding upon them for days or weeks if
no treatment is used. The adult
fleas will lay eggs on your pet, which generally roll onto the
surrounding area. (If your cat likes a carpeted corner, or your
dog has bedding, those are likely locations for flea eggs.)
Once fleas progress through the life cycle to the adult phase,
eating is imperative, and the new adult flea will use your pet
as a feeding ground. Once fed, fleas will lay eggs,
perpetuating the cycle.
In addition to using your pet as a source of sustenance, and a
place to lay eggs, fleas also excrete on your pets. You may see
flea dirt -- the dark reddish-brown feces of fleas -- on your
pet’s skin. You may also see this flea dirt on carpets or
We recommend preventing a flea problem before it starts with
the use of simple, effective spot-on
or oral treatments like K9
Advantis II or Comfortis.
the best flea and tick medication for dogs and cats,
check this list to see which
medication has what you are looking for.
What if My Dog Eats a Flea or Tick?
The short answer is don't worry too much if your dog eats a
flea or a tick. Your pet’s stomach is strong enough to handle
accidental insect ingestion, and so are you! While watching
your dog pick up a dead bug with the tip of his tongue might
not be the most pleasant sight, as long as it’s not a regular
occurrence there is no cause for concern.
One Flea, Two Flea, Three Flea, Four
However, if your pet has developed an affinity for munching on
bugs, I wouldn’t be as cavalier about their crunchy diet. Speak
with your veterinarian or a pet specialist if you notice flea
and tick ingestion becoming a common problem. When fleas are
consumed on a regular basis, the probability of your dog developing tapeworm greatly
As fleas often feed on pet feces, they are known to carry
tapeworm eggs in their system, which can be transmitted to a
cat or dog upon digestion. In most cases, a dog’s stomach acid
should be strong enough to kill off the egg before it hatches.
The same goes for ticks.
If a tapeworm does happen to develop, there are several safe
and efficient treatments including fast-acting
antibiotics. To prevent tapeworms, be diligent
about preventative flea and tick
control year-round. If your cat or dog is on a
regularly scheduled treatment plan, the possibility of
dead fleas, eggs or
larva being accidentally eaten greatly decreases. On
the same token, stay diligent about your pet’s hygiene as well
as the cleanliness of your home to ensure a happy and healthy
life for your pet.
More Flea and Tick Control Advice
What Does a Flea Bite Look
Natural Flea Treatment
for Your Home and Your Pet
What is Flea Allergy Dermatitis?
This information is for informational
purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the
professional advice of, or diagnosis, or treatment by your
veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or
other qualified professionals with any questions you may have
regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking
professional advice due to what you may have read on our