According to the Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, American pet owners cite the prevention of fleas and ticks as two of their top pet care concerns. When it comes to these parasites, prevention is always the best course of action. However, it's important that you're able to recognize the symptoms of flea or tick infestation so you can get your dog or cat the help she needs right away.
What You Need to Know About Fleas
Although fleas are wingless insects, they can jump up to two feet in the air. Their lifespan can be as short as two weeks or as long as a year. Unfortunately, they can produce millions of offspring in that short amount of time. Fleas feast on your animal's blood and can make him feel miserable. Some of the most common indications that your dog or cat has fleas include:
- Flea droppings on the fur that look like grains of sand
- Flea eggs that are tiny and white
- Scratching, biting, or licking much more than usual
- Loss of fur
- Allergic dermatitis
- Pale color to the gums
- Development of tapeworms
- Hot spots and scabs on the body
Since they are brought in easily from outdoors, fleas can live in your carpet, furniture, bedding, and other warm places where they can burrow. Once they find an animal host, fleas spend the remainder of their life in her fur laying eggs. A pet infested with a large amount of fleas can become anemic since these parasites can consume blood that is up to 15 times their own weight. Dogs and cats who are sensitive to flea saliva can develop allergic dermatitis, a condition that causes extreme skin irritation.