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How do you know if your dog has fleas?

A:

Quick Answer

Signs that a dog has fleas include itching, scratching and visible fleas. Other signs include flea dirt, damage to the dog's skin, excessive grooming or licking, and evidence of tapeworms.

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Full Answer

Fleas cause irritation by simply walking in the dog's coat, but biting the dog causes great discomfort. The dog itches and hurts. To relieve the feeling, it scratches, rubs or grooms itself more than usual. Some dogs may experience an allergic reaction to flea bites, making the pain and irritation even worse.

Serious flea infestations can cause damage to the dog's skin. Look for red, irritated areas, pus or hair loss. These symptoms indicate not only a flea infestation, but also either a serious reaction to flea bites or excessive chewing, biting or licking.

Though fleas are small, they are visible. Look for them hopping around on the dog and around his sleeping area. Fleas are dark in color and have a flat, hard body. Flea eggs may also be visible, and look like tiny grains of salt.

Flea dirt, another sign of fleas, looks like a sprinkling of pepper on the dog's skin, blankets or floor. Flea dirt is the excreted blood that fleas feed on. If the dog has flea dirt in its coat or bedding, fleas are feeding on it.

Fleas cause tapeworms, so if a dog exhibits signs of a tapeworm, it my have fleas even if they aren't visible. Signs of tapeworms include pieces of the tapeworm around the dog's anus or tapeworm larvae in the stool. Tapeworm larvae resemble rice grains.

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