How Do I Know If My Dog Has Fleas?

Golden retriever scratching himself

Your dog is scratching… shaking his head… biting himself… then scratching some more. If you notice this behavior, your dog may have fleas. Here’s the proper way to check your pet:

1. Do a close inspection of your dog’s body. The armpit and groin areas are favorite flea hangouts because they tend to be warm and protected.

2. Part your dog’s fur with your fingers to expose the skin. If fleas are present, you may notice the following signs:

  • The skin may look red and bumpy, especially if your dog has been scratching.
  • You may see tiny adult fleas, larvae that have hatched, or cocooned larvae that are pupating (developing into adults).
  • You might see tiny black specks that look like finely ground black pepper. This is flea “dirt,” or excrement, and another sign of flea infestation.

 3. Use a flea shampoo like the Adams Flea & Tick Cleansing Shampoo for quick relief. Let the lather remain in the hair coat for five minutes, then rinse with clean water. The fleas should start falling off your dog.

 

Other Flea-Detection Methods

  • Use a flea comb and work it through your dog’s hair, starting close to the skin. The fine teeth should capture fleas, which you can dispose of in a nearby bowl of soapy water to ensure that they don’t survive.
  • Use a “light trap” to detect fleas in the home. At night, set a small dish of soapy water on the floor near a nightlight. Fleas will jump toward the light and fall into the bowl.
  • Distinguish flea dirt from ordinary dirt by collecting any black specks that fall off your dog on a white paper towel. Sprinkle the specks with a little water. If they turn a dark reddish-brown color, it’s flea dirt.

 

The Bigger Picture

Aside from making your dog miserable, fleas can pose a health hazard. If your dog has sensitive skin or an allergy to flea bites, he can develop painful skin reactions. His constant scratching will irritate the skin, leading him to soothe the sore areas by licking. This just causes further irritation and possible infection.

Don’t forget that fleas are just as happy to bite humans as they are other animals, so it’s important to take immediate action to get rid of fleas.


Flea and Tick Pest Education