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How to Tell If Your Pet Has Fleas

Most owners already know if their pet has fleas, however if the fleas are only in low numbers, they may be missed. Unfortunately a low flea burden can quickly build up into plague proportions if not addressed. Pay attention to your pet’s behavior. If they scratch frequently you should check for the presence of fleas.

There are a several easy ways to tell if your pet has fleas. In each case you are looking for evidence that confirms the presence of fleas on a pet. Irrefutable evidence of flea infestation on a pet includes:

  • The presence of live adult fleas
  • The presence of flea eggs
  • The presence of flea dirt

How to use a flea comb to find fleas:

  • Stylemaster Flea Comb

    The flea comb is a very fine-toothed comb that captures fleas and flea dirt in its teeth when used to comb the coat of a dog or cat. As you can see here with the Stylemaster Flea Comb (right) and the Gripsoft Small Flea Comb.
  • Comb in a head to tail direction starting on top of the back at the level of last rib and finishing at the tail tip. Then repeat moving more to the sides and eventually down the legs.
  • The flea comb will collect and remove fleas and flea dirt from the coat of the pet. Dip the comb in hot water to kill the fleas. If no fleas are found but you think you have flea dirt, wipe the comb onto a wet paper towel. If flea dirt is present, they will leave a reddish brown stain from the partially digested blood in the flea dirt.

How to perform a visual inspection for fleas:

  • Roll the pet over and look between the back legs and under the tail – you may see some fast moving fleas.

If you don’t have a flea comb:

  • Check for flea dirt by placing the pet on a piece of white paper and rubbing your hand through the coat vigorously to cause the flea dirt to fall off. Next, wet the flea dirt on the paper with a moist cotton wool ball, if flea dirt is present the paper turns red.
  • Rub the pet over a dark surface - and a shower of pearly white flea eggs fall off the coat onto the surface. The flea eggs are approximately 1/50 of an inch long and will be present in significant numbers.

What do fleas look like?

Fleas are small, wingless insects with six legs. Their hind legs are long and powerful making them very proficient at jumping. They are usually dark, reddish brown in color and less than 1/8 of an inch long.

Be aware that one flea may bite your pet up to 400 times in just one day and for every flea you find on your pet there may be up to 50 at various stages of the lifecycle in the environment. Early regular treatment with an effect flea preventative will keep these pests under control and keep your pets healthy and happy.

Click here for advice in choosing the right flea control product for your pet.

Click here to view our range of flea and tick products for Cats and Kittens.

Click here to view our range of flea and tick products for Dogs and Puppies.

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