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How To Know if You Have Fleas & How To Remove Them

How To Know if You Have Fleas & How To Remove Them

Our furry friends aren’t the only ones who have to deal with these blood-sucking menaces. Unfortunately, fleas can and do bite people.

Fleas prefer our pets because their thick fur provides a perfect hiding space for them to live and lay their eggs. However, in a pinch, they aren’t against making your human family members their next meal.

Signs That Your Pet Has Fleas

Our pets are members of our family, so we often take their discomfort to heart. As good pet parents (as well as being good human parents), we want our pets to feel comfortable and loved. Regrettably, it’s hard to feel either of those emotions when you’re super itchy all over your body.

It can take pet parents a little while to realize that their pets are dealing with a flea infestation, which is understandable. We might feel guilty that our pets have been feeling itchy and uncomfortable, but we shouldn’t blame ourselves. Science has not yet reached a point where our pets can communicate with us in clear words, so sometimes messages get lost in translation.

While we can all anxiously await the day we can speak with our pets, we have to make do in the meantime. The most effective way to do this is to pay attention to how your pet can communicate with you and take notes. Unfortunately, not every pet will present exactly the same way when they are dealing with fleas.

Still, there are a few common actions/symptoms to keep an eye out for:

Your Pet Is Scratching More Than Usual

Your fluffy friend could be scratching themselves for any number of reasons. For example, they could have a slight irritation on their skin, causing them to feel itchy, or something could have brushed against them the wrong way. 

Some of the possible explanations for your dog, cat, or other critter scratching themselves don’t necessarily warrant cause for concern, but this changes when you realize that they’re scratching themselves too much.

“Too much” is a subjective term, so it’s up to you to understand your pet’s habits so that you can identify when they change from the norm. You can also pay attention to where your pet is scratching.

If they spend a lot of time on one particular spot, it’s worth investigating the skin to see if anything is amiss. If they’re scratching their whole body with more frequency and gusto than usual, there could be another answer.

The next step is checking your pet’s skin and fur for inconsistencies. You can start this process by looking at the coat itself. After that, gently separate the fur to see the skin underneath. If your dog is easily distracted or doesn’t enjoy your exploration, try putting a few treats in front of them so they will stay put.

Here are a few of the most common signs of fleas on our pets: 

You Notice Scabs on Your Pet’s Skin

An inevitable consequence of over-scratching and irritation, your pet will likely get a few scabs on its skin as it attempts to heal. Check your pet’s skin all over, but know that there are a few spots that fleas prefer to bite, making these the most common places to find scabbing. 

Check your pet’s neck, shoulders, and the base of its tail. Though the infestation can worsen and cause fleas to pop up in other places, if your pet has fleas, you will probably find them there. 

The scabbing on your pet’s skin might also become more obvious and easy to see due to thinning of the fur. When your pet repeatedly scratches at an area, the persistent irritation and rubbing can lead to their fur falling off. Even if you notice thinning of the fur without scabbing or without thinning of the fur, be on high alert for fleas.

Dark Brown, Black, or Red Spots on Their Fur and Skin

It’s incredibly gross and violating when you discover that your beloved pet has fleas, but it’s better to catch it sooner rather than later to take care of the issue quickly. Now that you’ve identified some common signs of fleas in pets, it’s time to look for the pests themselves.

Separate the fur on the places of your pet’s body that fleas tend to frequent. Do you see any small dots that shouldn’t be there? Fleas themselves are tiny but can be seen by the naked eye. They’re often dark red or brown and may or may not be crawling along your pet’s body. 

If you find darker spots that don’t appear to be moving, these can still indicate a flea outbreak. These insects leave behind flea dirt which is typically black or dark brown. If you find any of it, your pet may be dealing with fleas.

Signs of Flea Bites in Humans

When we think of fleas, we often think of how they affect our pets. Now that we know some of the most typical signs of flea bites in our cats and dogs, here’s what to look for in people.

Several Small, Red Bumps That Form a Line

One of the key ways that flea bites can be differentiated from other types of bug bites (mosquito bites, spider bites, bed bug bites, etc.) is the pattern they tend to form. Most bug bites result in some kind of raised bump on the skin that is likely itchy, painful, or both. However, fleas are unique in the formation that they use when biting.

Unlike blood-sucking bugs that bite any skin they can reach and then move onto somewhere totally different, fleas seem to be a bit more methodical in their approach. Fleas will find a spot for them to get their next meal, and then they’ll continue to bite around that area. Even stranger, they tend to do so in a somewhat straight line.

If your bites don’t form a straight line, it’s still possible that you’re dealing with fleas, but this anomaly is something to look out for. 

Unexplained Itching in Specific Places

Fleas often prefer to go for our legs and ankles. As a result, if you find a variety of red bumps in these areas, you may be dealing with a flea outbreak. That being said, these annoying pests can also bite other areas of the body, such as our armpits, torsos, and any areas they can sink their teeth into.

Fleas are attracted to specific spots of your body for a few reasons. The first one is simple: they go where they can reach. Fleas are known to often target our ankles, feet, and lower legs because that’s as far as they can get. While these pests are known for their impressive ability to jump many times more than their body height, they can only go so high.

Another explanation why fleas usually go after our lower legs is that they can often find exposed skin there. This isn’t to say that you should dress in Victorian garb to cover each and every centimeter of skin on your body, but you might want to invest in pajama pants and long-sleeve shirts. 

If you and your kids are going somewhere where you think bugs like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes could be a concern, it might be in your best interest to cover up more rather than less.

Other than just biting where they can, fleas are also attracted to areas of our bodies that smell more. Spots on our bodies, like our armpits, emit more smell and carbon dioxide, causing fleas to see these places as welcoming beacons.

A Bite Surrounded by a Red Halo 

Another differentiator of flea bites versus other bug bites is how they can appear visually. Other bug bites may be red all around, or they could be white or stay the same color as your skin.

Flea bites can form a sort of distinctive red halo around the site of the bite.

How To Get Fleas Out of Your Home

Now that you’ve established that you’re dealing with fleas, first of all, we’re sorry. These pests are incredibly annoying and uncomfortable, but by following these tips, you can get rid of them for good

Vacuum, Vacuum, Vacuum

Fleas are sneaky, so you never know where they might be hiding. Even if you get rid of the infestation on your pet or in a particular piece of furniture, they might still be lurking somewhere else, ready to start the cycle all over. 

Fleas can live in your carpets, so it’s crucial to thoroughly go over them with a high-power vacuum. For especially persistent infestations, a steam cleaning might be necessary.

Deep Clean All Bedding

If it’s upholstered or soft, chances are that fleas can live in it. As a result, all of these surfaces and pieces have to be fully cleaned. This includes bedding, clothes, anything that your pet touches regularly, and more. Essentially, if it’s in your house and cozy, it needs to be washed.

Use an Essential Oil Spray

To prevent fleas from getting into your house, you can prepare a spray that contains one or more essential oils. Once the diluted mixture is complete, spray it around your home in spots where bugs could potentially get in. This includes doorways to the outside, windows, cracks, and more.

Just a few of the most effective essential oils for getting rid of fleas include peppermint oil, atlas cedarwood oil, and lemongrass oil. Not only will these oils help keep bugs at bay, but they will also leave your home smelling refreshed and clean.

Create DIY Flea Traps

Luckily, creating a DIY flea trap is incredibly simple. All you have to do is get a bowl of water and add some dish soap to it. The dish soap will cause the fleas to jump in and not be able to get out. 

You can start by just putting this bowl in spots where you know that the fleas frequent. If this isn’t getting you the results that you want, up the ante by pointing a light source at the water to attract them more.

What To Do About Flea Bites

If you and your family are dealing with the itchy consequences of bug bites, you might want to grab a few MagicPatch Itch Relief Patches. The Grid-Relief Technology originally targeted soothing mosquito bites, but these cheerful patches can help with a long list of bug bothers. Even better, MagicPatch is all-natural, fast-acting, water-proof, and chemical-free. 

 

Sources:

How to Spot the Signs of Fleas | Pets WebMD

Fleabites: Symptoms, Causes, Risks, and Treatment | Medical News Today

8 Effective Ways to Get Rid of Fleas in the House | Country Living

How do I know if my dog or cat has fleas? | Animal Hospital of Clemmons

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