What Do Flea Bites on Dogs Look Like? What You Need to Know
Are you wondering what flea bites on dogs look like? If yes, you should check out our helpful guide here on what you need to understand.
Is your dog itchy and scratching? Maybe you’re wondering if your pet is miserable because of fleas. While flea bites on humans are easily discernable, flea bites on dogs are a little trickier to trace.
Scratching could be a sign of allergies or a spider or mosquito bite. Of course, it could also mean that fleas are causing your pet problems.
You wouldn’t be the first pet owner to wonder what do flea bites look like on dogs. Don’t worry—we can help. First, you need to know what you’re looking for—search for signs of fleas instead of a bite mark.
Flea Bites on Dogs: The Lifecycle of Fleas
These nasty little parasites don’t just appear out of nowhere, although it may seem that way because of their lifecycle. Not only that, but fleas are hard to spot before it’s too late and they are adults. When an adult female flea jumps onto your pet, that’s only the beginning.
The females lay eggs within a day after they find a host to feed on by sucking their blood. Then they lay their eggs in the dog’s fur. Now, the eggs get spread around and drop onto the carpet, lawn, bedding, or anywhere else your pet goes.
Next, the eggs hatch into larvae that thrive in warm places with little to no sunlight, such as fur, carpets, and grass under trees. In about a month, the larvae spin cocoons and turn to pupae. Fleas can hibernate in this stage for months, and when they emerge, you could have a full-on infestation of adult fleas if you haven’t treated for them.
While you can control pests in your yard and home, your dog may still pick up a blood-sucking passenger when they’re walking through the dog park or anywhere else fleas live. That’s why it’s essential to know the signs of fleas at every stage.
What Do Flea Bites Look Like?
Flea bites look like pimply red dots—like an itchy red rash. Sometimes flea bites cause dogs to scratch uncontrollably. They’ll bite and chew at their skin, causing hair loss and scabs. However, not all dogs show signs like this right away.
You can stop a flea problem before you end up with flea-bitten dogs.
Look for Clues
Flea dirt is a tell-tale sign of fleas. It looks like little clumps of black pepper, but it’s flea feces. You may notice flea dirt when you’re combing your pet. You can remove flea dirt from their fur with a flea comb and bath, but it’ll come back until you’ve gotten rid of the fleas.
You won’t always see fleas because they’re small. Plus, they can jump and hide in your dog’s fur and other welcoming places. The bottom line is that if you see flea dirt, you need to treat your pet, home, and yard.
If you’ve ever wondered what a flea bite looks like on a dog, then you’ve also wondered how to get rid of fleas. It’s not the easiest thing to do once an infestation starts. You’ll want to plan your attack to rid your life of fleas in the house and yard, as well as on the dog.
What to Do for Your Dog
You need to start with the dog and relieve their itching. First, treat them with mild skin-soothing pet shampoo. An oatmeal-based shampoo will help ease irritation.
Next, dry them off and use a flea comb to remove any fleas and flea dirt.
You have options on what kind of flea treatment to use for your pet. Some dogs are sensitive to veterinarian prescribed oral remedies such as Comfortis or Trifexis. Others thrive using this monthly method that comes in a flavored chewable tablet.
Oral treatments are an effective way to prevent flea infestations on your pet.
Additionally, if your dog picks up a few adult fleas, even though you’ve kept up on their flea treatment, you might want to try something that will help immediately, such as Capstar, a 24-hour solution. Capstar tablets work quickly to kill adult fleas in around a half-hour. This is also an excellent way to treat dogs who have an allergic reaction to flea saliva as it supplies almost immediate relief.
Not all dogs do well with oral medications, especially young dogs, old dogs, or those who have conditions such as epilepsy. Except for Capstar, many oral methods run a risk of seizures.
Topical treatments are quite effective in treating fleas as well. For example, Frontline Plus is quick and convenient. Apply the liquid between the dog’s shoulder blades or at the base of its tail.
Topical treatments vary in strength and how long they last. Typically, you can expect them to last upward toward a month. The best topical treatments, such as Frontline, are waterproof and kill fleas in all the stages, from eggs to adults.
Natural Flea Control Remedies for Your Pet
There are lots of ways to control fleas naturally, using everything from essential oils to brewer’s yeast. The thing to remember about natural remedies is that you’ll need to do them more often than monthly flea treatments that you get prescribed from the vet or buy over the counter.
Here are a few of the natural ways you can try to prevent fleas on your pet:
Apple cider vinegar and sea salt spray
Home and Garden Solutions
Fleas are invasive. The bottom line is that your pet probably brought them in from the yard. Don’t worry—there are a few ways to get rid of fleas in the yard.
You can purchase an insecticide for the lawn and garden that comes with a hose and sprayer—or call a professional. If you decide on DIY flea prevention, make sure to wear protective gloves and a paper respirator at the very least.
Another alternative—if you want to avoid chemicals—is to kill flea larvae with water by hosing down any area where they thrive outside, including piles of rocks, in and around garden beds, and under trees in tall grass.
Similarly, you can opt for a natural flea killer such as Diatomaceous earth. These products look like dust, powders, or pressurized liquids that work to kill not only fleas, but also ticks, spiders, and lots of other insects. You can even use some Diatomaceous earth products directly on dogs and cats.
You could also try Nematodes—microscopic worms that eat flea larvae as well as termites. Finally, cedarwood chips smell lovely, and fleas hate them. Even better? Cedarwood chips are beautiful for landscaping.
Complications from Flea Bites: Flea Allergies
Not all dogs scratch when they get fleas. Some are allergic to flea saliva. The allergic reaction is what causes the red bumps you sometimes see on flea-bitten dogs. In some cases, a flea allergy can escalate to Flea Allergy Dermatitis, an acute allergic reaction in dogs that causes hair loss.
The dog will scratch, lick, and bite themselves on the tail, backside, and in their groin area. Left untreated, the allergic reaction to the flea’s saliva can cause a bacterial infection. In any case, the dog will likely need medication to help clear up dermatitis and any resulting infection.
You can see why it’s essential to implement a flea treatment regime.
Other complications from fleabites come in the form of more parasites. As if the flea infestation weren’t enough, you also have to worry about tapeworms. These nasty parasites look like a grain of rice, seed, or small white worms on your dog’s rear end, in their bedding, or in their feces.
Tapeworms use fleas as their intermediate host until they find their way into your dog’s intestines. How? When your dog chews, they swallow fleas and ingest the tapeworms.
Anemia From Flea Bites
Fleas are parasites that survive on the blood they consume. If a dog has fleas, they can develop anemia from the flea bites. The result is a loss of energy. What’s more—your dog can’t stay healthy if they have fleas.
Puppies and older dogs are especially in danger of anemia caused by flea bites.
Fleas don’t just bite a dog. They feed like little vampires, meaning that they potentially bite your dog hundreds of times every day. Left untreated, flea bites on dogs will ultimately cause health problems and may even require blood transfusions and intensive care.
An ounce of prevention
Now that you know flea infestation goes beyond merely searching for flea bites on dogs, think about prevention. You want your pet to be healthy, so make sure to give them preventative flea treatments to protect them when they’re out in the world.
If you’re searching for professional solutions to your flea problems indoors and out, then get in touch with us here at Synergy² Pest. Let’s make a plan to keep your home and yard flea free. Interested in learning more about other pests we treat? Visit the pest pages section of our website. Also check out some of the recent blog posts on mice and bed bugs on our Pest Talk Blog.
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