Flea prevention should be a regular part of your dog's care, especially as weather warms up and the insects begin to populate the wilderness. These tiny parasites can jump very long distances, making it easy for them to hitch a ride on your pet during a walk outside. While you should regularly check your dog for fleas, it's also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the signs of an infestation so you can catch problems early and maintain flea control in your household.
1. Fleas in the fur
Actually seeing fleas in your dog's fur is the No. 1 sign that your pet is infested. PetMD suggested that you roll your dog onto his back and start by checking his armpits and groin, which are warm and offer protection for these parasitic bugs. You should also check his ears for redness, dirt and blood, and if you notice any redness or bumps on his skin, these could be pointing to fleas too. A special fine-toothed comb can be used for flea removal.
2. Flea dirt
You can also check for flea dirt by combing or petting your dog and looking for tiny black flecks. The Companion Animal Parasite Council recommended placing a sheet of white or light-colored paper underneath your dog and then brushing or petting him. If you see lots of black specks on the paper that appear dirt-like – hence the name – you can then transfer this "dirt" to a damp piece of paper. According to the council, the flecks will turn to a rusty red color if your dog has fleas. Essentially, the dirt specks are flea waste and the red color is caused by the fleas' consumption of blood.
3. Scratching, licking or chewing
When fleas latch onto a dog's skin, it can result in itchiness. Pay attention to your dog's behavior, and if you notice he is scratching himself more than usual, licking his fur or chewing on his body it's time to inspect him for signs of fleas.
When a dog has fleas, his discomfort may make him restless. Pay attention to his habits. Is he running around the house more than usual and more active and excited? It could be because he's living with fleas.
5. Rashes, scabs and other skin problems
Fleas can also adversely affect your dog's skin. Keep an eye out for hot spots, rashes and scabs. Some dogs may be allergic to flea saliva, so one flea bite can lead to these symptoms as well as hair loss, according to WebMD.
This content is provided by the flea and tick experts at Hartz. We believe in offering safe, effective and affordable parasite prevention for every dog and cat.