How can I tell if my cat/dog has fleas?


Let’s face it, fleas happen.   But how do you know if that itch your cat or dog has is from fleas?  First thing first, let’s hit the basics:


  • If your cat or dog is scratching that doesn’t always mean they have fleas.
  • A pet that does not go outside can have fleas. 
  • The biggest carriers of fleas, locally, are rabbits and squirrels which are in all of our back yards. 


Fleas may “hitch a ride inside” on humans, other pets, or even enter the home on their own.  Fleas in our area typically prefer to feed on cats, then dogs, then humans in our households (Yes, fleas will feed on the people in the home as well).  Itchy skin can be caused by many things.  Do not jump to the conclusion that fleas are the problem.  If you are unsure, treating your cat or dog with fleas could make the problem worse.  There are signs to see if your pet has fleas.  Below are a few ways to do so:


  1. Combing your pet and examining their skin and coat watching for live fleas is the easiest way.  The use of a very fine comb, or flea comb, is recommended.  Fleas tend to be found above the tail, under the belly, and in warm moist areas on the pet, but could be on any part of the body.  Adult fleas will look brown, thin/opal shaped, and can be up to approximately 1/8 of an inch long.  If you see even one adult flea you should treat your pet for fleas as adult fleas are only approximately 1% of the flea population and the eggs, larvae, and pupae stages are usually not noticed until they develop into the adult stage.  This means for every 1 adult flea seen there are approximately 99 other fleas not developed enough to see yet and the adult fleas can lay up to 50 eggs per day.  Scary!
  2. Another sign your pet has fleas is if you notice what they call “flea dirt”.  Flea dirt will look like small, black, bits of sand or dirt.  Again, using a flea comb, comb through the pets coat especially above the tail, under the belly, and in the “arm pit” like areas of the pet.  If you see any bits of dirt on the comb but are unsure if it is “flea dirt” you can get a moist paper towel and wipe the dirt on the towel.  If it is “flea dirt” it will leave red marks on the moist towel.  This is because the “flea dirt” is flea excrement from adult fleas feeding on your pet. 


If your cat or dog does have fleas, make sure all your pets in the home are treated.  This includes the pets in your home that do not show signs of having fleas.  This is suggested, as otherwise the fleas will just move on to the next animal.  Leaving it go for even a few days can result in a much bigger problem and be an even harder solution.  If you do not see any signs of fleas on your pet, Pet World Warehouse Outlet recommends the use of flea prevention products so you so not have a problem down the road.


Do you have experience with fleas on your cat or dog?  Please comment below with your experience.