How to Recognize Fleas and their Bites

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Summer is flea season, and that means that these little buggers are everywhere. Even if you’re using a flea preventative, sometimes fleas are just too tenacious. Perhaps they’ve hitched a ride on your dog and wound up on your indoor cat.

Whatever the reason, if your pet does get fleas you’ll want to be able to recognize the signs right away. Since fleas can multiply incredibly quickly — just one female flea can lay 500 eggs in her lifetime — time is of the essence.

Recognizing fleas and their bites

What fleas look like: Fleas are small insects with a tiny head and longer back end. They’re very small, about 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch in length. That’s smaller than a grain of rice.

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What flea bites look like: They’re slightly smaller than other bug bites, and can often remain hidden under your pet’s fur before you know there’s a problem. The poor kitty in the picture below has flea allergy dermatitis, which can cause hair loss as well, but you can see the flea bites here.

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What flea dirt looks like: Finally, fleas leave behind “flea dirt” when they’re living on pets. Flea dirt is actually flea waste and looks like tiny black dirt or grains of sand. Flea dirt is usually easiest to see on your pet’s stomach and can also be found on their bedding.

More signs of fleas

Pets will usually feel it if they have fleas. They’ll begin scratching more than normal, and may bite, lick, or snap at parts of their bodies where fleas are irritating them.

Find out more

Get all of your flea questions answered in our Wellness Advice Center.