Signs of Fleas and How To Treat Them

| Dog Grooming, Dog Health

dog bathing for fleas


The vast majority of dogs are fairly low maintenance. They don’t need daily bathing, grooming, and aren’t prone to as many illnesses as humans. However, dogs are extremely susceptible to fleas. These gnarly little parasites can cause serious discomfort for most dogs and can even lead to worse conditions if your dog is highly allergic to them or the flea transmits a disease.

So what are the signs of fleas and how do you treat them? Let’s take a look first at some common ways to identify these parasites.


Below you will find a number of signs that can indicate your dog has fleas. The first three signs might also be indicators of something else, whereas the final sign is a definite indicator of fleas. Once you spot any of these signs, you should do a thorough visual inspection of your dog, down to the roots of their hair or fur to see if you can find live fleas.

Abnormal or Excessive Scratching

Fleas bite your dog and suck their blood. It is as simple as that. Unfortunately, their bite is an extreme nuisance to your dog and will let them to scratch at the source excessively. Some dogs have naturally dry skin so scratching might not be an immediate sign for you. However, if the scratching becomes abnormal, you should do a spot check for fleas.

Hair Loss

Hair loss and excessive scratching can go hand-in-hand. Some dogs may actually pull out their own hair due to the irritation of the flea bites. The hair can also fall out as an adverse reaction to the flea bite.

Pale Gums

If you dog has pale gums, you should not only do a flea check, but also bring them to the vet. Pale gums is a good indicator that there is something more severe going on with your dog, whether it is fleas or not. In regards to fleas, pale gums is a sign of anemia, which can be caused by a severe infestation. Basically, the fleas are extracting more blood than the dog can produce.

Flea Dirt

Flea dirt, small black, red, or brown specks on your pet’s body and living area is a direct indication of flea dirt. Flea dirt is flea feces, which gets its coloring from digested blood. The best way to tell if a dark speck is flea dirt or regular dirt is to drop it in the toilet. Being composed of primarily blood, a flea dirt speck will actually dissipate in the water leaving a tiny reddish streak. Dirt will typically not do this.


Flea Products

Most fleas are taken care of through topical or digestible medication. The topical medication is a liquid applied to the back of your dog at regular intervals. It can act as a treatment and prevention. The digestible tablet form is usually prescribed by a vet and it also taken at regular intervals.


Bathing with flea shampoo is another option for treatment. Bathing in general can help remove a number of flea eggs, however the fleas are a little harder to remove. Use a flea brush in the shower with the flea shampoo to really get a thorough cleaning of your dog.

Thorough House Clean

The problem with fleas is that they are extremely hard to fully eradicate. Even if you do get the eggs, larvae, and parasites off of your dog, you still have to deal with every single area your dog has been. It is recommend to thoroughly vacuum the entire house as eggs or larvae could have been incidentally deposited anywhere your dog walked. In addition you should thoroughly wash and clean any dog beds, crates, blankets, and toys.