How To Tell If Your Dog Has Fleas (8 Simple Tips)

Your dog starts scratching more than usual and is acting restless.

You wonder if it has fleas, or if there’s another cause…

But how can you tell if your dog has fleas?

If you suspect your dog does have fleas, you don’t want to wait for situation to get worse.

It’s important to check your dog and make sure something else isn’t causing the issue.

This guide is here to help. We’ve included 8 simple tips that show you how to tell if your dog has fleas.

By the end of this article, you’ll have the knowledge you need to make that call without a needing a trip to the vet.

Where Do Dog Fleas Come From?

Before you learn how to recognize a dog flea infestation, it’s best to learn a thing or two about dog fleas and how your dog can get them in the first place.

First of all, there are over 2,000 species of fleas around the world.

However, the most common one that is probably bothering your dog is Ctenocephalides felis, aka the cat flea.

So yes, if your dog has fleas, they are most likely cat fleas (just don’t tell your dog that!)

Dogs are very social animals and often come into close contacts with a lot of other dogs.

Plus not all dogs are into chasing cats, and some prefer to hang around and play with them instead.

Your dog could even have picked up fleas from the park or anywhere other flea-bearing animals frequently visit.

Because of this, even the cleanest dogs can become infested with fleas. 

Before taking any action against the fleas, you need to be 100% sure that fleas are the actual issue and causing your dog’s discomfort.

How To Tell If Your Dog Has Fleas

dog with fleas

Fleas are small parasites that measure 1 to 3 millimeters in length.

A female flea can lay approx. 50 eggs per day. So they breed and spread really fast!

Typically, they infest the base of the tail, abdomen, neck, and lower back.

Fleas have dark or brown bodies that are much easier to spot if your dog has light-colored skin or hair.

If that’s not the case, then there are other signs you can look out for.

To figure out if it just fleas or it’s something else and you need to visit the vet, here are 8 simple tips:

#1 Find the fleas – no matter the skin or hair colour of the dog, a visual inspection is pretty straightforward and fast. Split the dog’s hair and see if the little critters are running around trying to hide. Pay particular attention to the base of the tail, abdomen, neck, and lower back.

#2 Check the fur for patches of hair loss, red and irritated skin. If you see small red dots, there’s a good chance those are flea bites.

#3 Watch out for abnormal licking, biting and scratching. Those are the first signs that your dog has fleas and that’s usually when you want to do something about it. That behavior will only be because of something else in rare occasions.

#4 Check for flea dirt. Flea dirt is a term used to describe flea droppings. They look like black pepper flecks, and they will be spread over your dog’s infected body area if it has fleas. Sometimes, you may find them on the carpet and the dog bed as well. They are nothing but dried blood.

#5 Give your dog a warm bath. If there are black spots in the water, then you’ve got fleas. If you find blood in the water, don’t be concerned too much as you’re probably looking at flea droppings disintegrated in the water.

Dog bath to check for fleas

#6 Use a flea comb. One of the best and easiest ways to check for your dog for a flea infestation is by using a flea comb. A flea comb can gather both flea dirt and actual fleas. It’s simple, easy, and can provide a definitive answer.

#7 Use a flea trap. If you are not too eager to check your dog with your own hands, you might try something else like a flea trap. Anyone can make a small DIY flea trap. Place a small dish full of soapy water and a candle or a nightlight nearby. That way, fleas will be lured by the light and will accidentally jump in the soapy water. If find fleas in the water, it’s a sure sign your dog has them and they might be in your home as well.

#8 Check your dog’s gums. If they are pale, your dog could have anemia. Anemia can be a direct consequence of the fleas consuming the dog’s blood and decreasing its supply of hemoglobin. This lack of hemoglobin leads to anemia, which can lead to dizziness, weakness and breathing difficulties. Fleas can consume blood about 15 times their body weight in a single day, so they don’t mess around. Don’t panic with this point though – anemia is only likely to be caused if you’re dog has a significant and very obvious flea infestation.

How To Get Rid Of Dog Fleas

In this article we have given you 8 simple techniques that show how to tell if your dog has fleas.

If your furry friend is unfortunate enough to have picked up fleas, don’t panic.

There are all sorts of products made specifically for flea treatment. Products like flea shampoos, collars that repel fleas and ticks, flea sprays, chews for flea control, oral tablets, and so on. 

It is also a good idea to clean your home when treating your dog for fleas. Wash their toys, bedding and vacuum the carpets.

As far as your garden goes, you may want to treat that as well. Diatomaceous earth or some non-toxic nematodes can do the job. They both are non-toxic, very effective and budget-friendly.

If you are unsure about anything, talk to a vet before taking any action. If nothing else, it’ll confirm that you’re about to do the right thing to deal with your dog’s flea infestation.

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