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Fleas and Dogs: An FAQ

Dog Sitting on Sofa
Fleas make dogs miserable, spread disease, and infest homes. Keeping your dog free of fleas can help protect your pet from an uncomfortable situation and can protect your house from possible infestation. This FAQ will help you understand more about fleas, such as where they come from and how you can avoid them.

How Can You Tell If Your Dog Has Fleas?

Pets that have a flea infestation will bite and scratch themselves almost obsessively, especially in the folds of the skin and in warm, moist areas where two areas of skin will touch. For example, you can find fleas in the groin, armpits, and in the areas around the ears. Pets that have a flea infestation may scratch until they bleed or until their coat is bare in areas. They may also shake their head repeatedly.

Can You See Fleas?

Yes, you can see fleas, but this is not easy. A fully grown flea is a little bit bigger than a poppy seed. If you want to visually confirm that your pet has fleas, ask your dog to sit or lie down. Inspect an area that your dog has scratched a lot. You might see red bumps, blood, or dirt. If your dog has displayed the other behaviors that indicate an infestation, this dirt may actually be fleas on your dog's skin.

How Do Dogs Get Fleas?

Dogs get fleas through contact with infested places or animals. If your dog has been some place where fleas were present, they may have jumped onto your dog's body as your dog walked by. Fleas can be found in upholstery, carpeting, on other animals, and outside in the environment.
Dogs can get fleas from spending a lot of time in the yard or by playing with other animals at a pet park. If your dog was recently in a kennel, this place is where your pet may have gotten an infestation.

When Are Fleas Most Likely to Be a Problem?

In states like Michigan, fleas are most often a problem when temperatures outside are ideal for flea survival. Fleas like temperatures of 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, so flea season tends to last from spring through early to mid-fall.
However, fleas can live indoors even when temperatures outside are cold. Dog owners must always be aware of the threat of fleas so they can watch their pet for behavior that indicates a problem.

What Can You Do to Prevent Your Dog From Getting Fleas?

You can do many things to prevent your dog from getting fleas.
Control Interactions With Other Animals
Keep your dog away from strays and unfamiliar animals. If your dog spends any time in a kennel or doggy daycare, educate yourself to find out what the facility does to prevent the spread of fleas from one animal to another.
Keep Upholstery Clean and Buy From Reputable Sources
If you're in the habit of buying used furniture, only purchase from reputable sources. Vacuum and clean your upholstered furniture frequently to prevent your existing furniture from developing an infestation.
Remove Yard Waste
You can find fleas in yard waste, in piles of leaves or twigs, and among tall grasses. Keep your yard tidy and well-maintained. If you suspect that your yard has a flea infestation, spray for fleas. Work with a reputable pest control company to do this. If you spray on your own, follow the manufacturer's instructions to ensure that you do this safely.
Get Your Pet a Pest Preventative
Your pet's veterinarian can prescribe a pest preventative that will protect your pet from fleas. Talk to your pet's vet about preventatives during your pet's annual checkup.

Who Can You Contact to Find Out More About Fleas?

If you have more questions about what you can do to protect your pet from fleas, contact Healthy Paws Veterinary Hospital & House Calls. We're always happy to answer pet owner questions about how they can keep their pet safe and healthy.