Does my dog have fleas?

Some dogs may scratch a lot if they have fleas and some may not, so here’s a list of other signs to look out for...

  • Red bites on your dog’s skin.
  • Itching and scratching.
  • Hair loss or thinning of the coat.
  • Patches of skin irritation or skin infections.
  • Flea bites on you or your family’s skin (commonly around the ankles).
  • Flea poo in your dog’s coat (look out for black-red specks).

It’s important to check your dog regularly for fleas. These parasites love to hide behind your dog’s ears, around the head, and at the base of the tail. Use a comb to part the fur and check the area at the root of the hair, as this is where you may find fleas and any flea poo.

Even if you don’t spot any evidence of fleas on your dog, it doesn’t necessarily mean he is flea-free. If in doubt, take your dog to your vet for a check-up, as he or she will also be able to rule out any other causes of scratching, such as allergies and mites. Prevention is easier than cure, so keeping these creepy critters out of your and your pet’s life in the first place is key. However, it’s not uncommon to have a flea infestation on your pet or in your home at some point. Sadly, there is no quick fix, and getting an infestation resolved can take three months or more.

Here are some top tips for tackling a flea infestation:

  • Treat all cats and dogs in the household with a flea product that kills both fleas and their eggs.
  • Wash pet bedding at 60°C.
  • Vacuum the whole house regularly and dispose of the bag frequently.
  • Treat your home at the same time as you treat your pets with a suitable household flea spray
How to find fleas on dogs

Take a small sheet of white paper (kitchen towel works best), and moisten it, hold it near the base of the dog's back, and brush or scratch him vigorously in the same area holding the paper close by. Black specs of dirt/dust will fly on to the paper. Any that dissolve in the water on the paper to leave a reddish smudge are flea faeces containing blood.