What Do Flea Bites Look Like on Dogs?

Kerry Beaman

As you're about to pour yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy a good book, you hear a disturbing sound. It's the familiar sound of your dog scratching herself. However, your dog doesn't seem to be scratching a random itch; her scratching seems more deliberate and urgent. You're no pet detective, but you fear the worst. Fleas.

As you take a closer look at your dog, you realize you've never seen a flea bite before. So, how can you be sure your dog has a flea problem?

Follow the Evidence

Fleas leave small red dots on their victims' skin, and the bites are typically smaller than the average insect bite. However, some dogs can have a strong reaction to flea bites causing the infected area to become red and inflamed.

If red dots aren't clearly visible, there are additional signs that suggest flea activity. If you notice one or more of the following clues, your dog likely has a flea problem.

  • Irritated, red, or bumpy skin (with or without noticeable red dots)
  • The presence of scabs
  • Loss of fur
  • The presence of "flea dirt" that resembles black pepper
  • Signs of the perpetrator—the flea (about an eighth of an inch long and reddish-brown)1
  • Small, white eggs that resemble rice—only smaller

Follow Your Hunch

If you think your dog has fleas, you should conduct a more intensive investigation immediately. If you notice the activity from a single flea, you might deduce you're dealing with one culprit rather than an infestation. However, if you see more than one flea or evidence of recent flea activity, you need to take the situation seriously. Believe it or not, as few as 20 fleas can be considered an infestation. The presence of multiple bites is another clue you shouldn't ignore.

Return to the Scene of the Crime

If the evidence leads you to conclude your dog has fleas, it's time to assess the situation. You need to grab a flea comb, like the Magic Coat Professional Series Flea Catcher Flea Comb for Dogs, and look for additional evidence. Should you discover flea eggs, fleas, or flea dirt, you want to destroy as much of the evidence as possible. While this isn't the best tactic for a police detective, it's the best course of action for you.

Once you have removed as many flea particles as possible with a comb, follow these steps:

  1. Bathe your dog with Adams Plus Flea & Tick Foaming Shampoo & Wash. This shampoo kills fleas and prevents flea eggs from hatching for up to 30 days. The Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo with Precor is great for dogs with sensitive skin. It contains the protection you need from a flea and tick shampoo while protecting your pup's skin. (And with the aloe and cucumber scent, your dog will feel like he spent the day at the spa!)
  2. Wash anything your dog has touched (bedding, carpets, clothes, etc.).
  3. Vacuum carpeted areas and dispose of the contents into a trash can outside the home to keep the collected fleas out of the house.
  4. Sweep solid flooring and dispose of the contents outside the home, too.
  5. Clean and protect your carpets, upholstery, and drapes with the Adams Flea & Tick Carpet & Home Spray. The spray kills adult fleas and prevents pre-adult fleas from developing into biting adults. One treatment protects your carpets and home for 210 days.

Continue to Sleuth

Using your newly discovered detective skills, determine where the flea infestation might have originated. Has your dog been outside? Has your dog been around other dogs? Finding the point of origin is critical to help remove any flea threat.

Take the proper precautions like spraying your yard with the Adams Plus Yard Spray. The spray kills fleas and protects your yard for up to four weeks.

Safeguard Your Pet and Surroundings

Once you've removed the unwanted pests from your dog, home, and yard, it's time to focus on flea prevention. Don't let your pet fall victim to a future flea attack! Instead, equip her with a top-notch defense plan.

Mystery Solved

Once you've used your newly found flea-detective skills and eradicated the little pests from your dog, home, and yard (and prevented their return to the scene), the only thing left to do is grab your coffee and return to the mystery novel you were reading. For now, your job is done. It's time to relax!

  1. Donovan, John. "How to Spot the Signs of Fleas." WebMD, 2018, http://pets.webmd.com/spot-fleas#1.
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