Learn About Fleas And How To Get Them Off Your Dog Or Cat

Does your dog or cat scratch all the time? If so, he could have fleas.

Fleas can be found in the country, city and can even be picked up by humans as they’re in the grocery store or library. If someone has fleas at home and a flea hitches a ride on a pant leg or shoe, the flea can hop off anywhere. Once the flea hops off, he’s immediately going to look for a new host. That could be you or your pet if you’re in the right place at the right time. Fleas need warm blood animals to survive.

What Do Flea Bites Look Like On Humans?

flea bites on human leg
This is the result of picking up a stray flea at one of our pet sitting jobs.

Flea bites on humans are large white bumps. The bumps slowly disappear but while they’re raised they itch like crazy if your skin is sensitive like mine.

I picked this flea up during one of my mid-day dog walks. The dog had had fleas for a while and my client was using a particular type of flea treatment that disrupts the flea life cycle but fails to kill live fleas. Because of this, every time I visit, I get ate up with fleas.

This picture was taken when I hurriedly pulled into a secluded area and yanked down my pants enough to find this flea assassin. Do you know how annoying it is to feel a flea biting your leg and not be able to do anything because you’re driving? Luckily I popped that flea but not before he left his mark.

What Causes Flea Bites To Itch?

The itch comes from flea saliva. When a flea bites, they leave a small amount of saliva behind. It causes irritation in some animals and people. Severe reactions can cause patches of hair to fall out and can cause the skin to thicken (in defense of the irritation). Furthermore, it can causes rashes and lead to anemia if not treated in time. Anemia can be deadly and when a young puppy or kitten has a severe case of fleas.

Where Can I Find Fleas On My Pet?

Fleas hop all over and can bite anywhere. However, fleas typically can be found near the base of the tail, near the groin and down the center of the back. These are all difficult spots for the pet to get to and the fleas want to be where they’re less likely to be scratched off.

Signs of Flea Infestation

If your pet is itching, scratching and biting parts of his body, he probably has fleas. Even one flea can cause your pet to go ballistic and scratch ferociously.

Flea droppings (flea poop and host blood) can look like dark pieces of sea salt and can be found wherever fleas have been on your pet. The fleas feed (bite), walk or hop, then poop and repeat this cycle. Flea droppings can be found on your bed, furniture and carpet. If you have fleas in your home it’s important to wash and clean these items.

Flea Life Cycle

The flea life cycle goes from egg to larva to pupa before the final adult stage. The process can take anywhere from two to three weeks to several months, depending on the conditions. Adult cat and dog fleas can live up to one year in ideal situations, but only about one to two weeks if no host is present.

Control Fleas On Your Pet

First and foremost, get your pet on flea prevention and continue this throughout the year. Fleas don’t die off in the winter; they just look for warm bodies. And, depending on where you live, fleas might get worse during one part of the year then slow down others. Regardless, keep up with the right type of flea treatment and that will help tremendously.

There’s many types of flea treatments on the market; chewable pills, injections and topical treatments. Some kill live insects, others only eggs. Other products are waterproof and prevent mosquitos from biting your pet. Be sure you know for sure what the product you choose does. This is extremely important: NEVER put flea medicine made for dogs onto cats and NEVER put flea medicine that’s made for cats onto dogs unless it clearly states it can be used on both. Hundreds of pets die or have severe reactions every year because their people use the wrong product on them.

What To Do In Your Home To Take Care Of The Flea Problem

  • Vacuum daily (Empty the contents of the bagless container as soon as you vacuum to get rid of flea eggs, larvae and live fleas. If your vacuum uses bags, you’ll have to use new bags frequently. If you don’t eggs can hatch in the bag then hop out once it’s turned back on.)
  • Keep a clean house. The more stuff you have lying on the floor, the more places fleas have to hide.
  • Keep children’s stuffed animals up off the floor.
  • Wash blankets, rugs and pet bedding frequently in hot water. If you only shake out rugs and don’t wash them the flea eggs can remain attached to the fibers.
  • Use flea powder to sprinkle on your carpet and furniture.
  • Use flea spray specifically for furniture and carpet.
  • Contact a pest care professional to spray if you constantly have fleas no matter what you do.
  • Sprinkle borax powder or diatomaceous earth to kill fleas.
  • Look for fleas and flea eggs on your pet. If you see a small black thing hopping around, pinch it and pop it 🙂 between two fingernails or stick it in a small bowl of soapy water if you’re not into popping fleas. Flea eggs are small found and flat objects, like a grain of salt, can be picked off and crushed or put into water also.

Wondering What Flea Treatment or Prevention To Use On Your Pet?

See this flea product comparison chart by Healthy Pets or this one by fleabites.net.

Please contact your veterinarian before you choose a flea prevention medicine. Some products require a blood test before treatment is applied. Others have contraindications and your veterinarian will help you decide what’s best.

Protecting Our Clients

In order to make sure we’re doing the best job we can, we ask our clients to keep their pets flea free.

Just so you know, if we walk into a new client’s home and get attacked by fleas or see their pets itching and scratching, we’ll have to pause services until the problem is taken care of.

This policy helps us make sure we don’t carry fleas with us to other people’s homes.

If you have any questions about fleas, how we help our client’s with this problem or want to book pet care services, please send a message.

Stay itch free,

Kelley Stewart, CEO|Pet Sitter
sit-stay-play In-home pet sitting & more.LLC
“Your pet sitting, dog walking, poop scooping specialists!”