How To Tell If My Dog Has Fleas?

Ou may have noticed your dog’s constant scratching, this may mean that your dog is infested with fleas. This should be a concern for us dog owners because fleas in our dogs can be quite uncomfortable and painful for them.

Flea infestation is common on dogs, and if left untreated, may lead to infections and other flee-related health issues. Fortunately, you can easily tell when your dog shows signs that it might have a flea infestation. Home remedies for fleas are common and can be done at home.

Want to learn more? Stick around as we determine how you can tell if your dog has fleas and what you can do about it.

Signs And Symptoms Of A Flea Infestation

It can be quite easy to see the signs and symptoms of a flea infestation in your dog. We should be attentive to our dog’s behavior since flea infestations can be very uncomfortable for your dog. Not only should you observe their behavior, but you should also regularly check on their skin and coat for fleas.

Let’s go through a few signs of a flea infestation in your dog.

Excessive Scratching

An obvious indication of a flea infestation is when your dog is excessively scratching or biting on its skin. This is because dogs are often allergic to the protein in the saliva that fleas leave on your dog’s skin. Excessive scratching may cause hair loss and bald spots on your dog.

Flea Dirt

When checking your dog’s coat and skin, if you see dark, grainy specks, these are flea feces or “flea dirt”. Flea feces are digested blood, so in order not to confuse flea dirt with regular dirt, you can put these grains into a wet paper towel, and if they turn red, that means that they are flea feces.

Skin Inflammation

Since dogs can be allergic to the protein in flea saliva, whenever fleas bite their skin, they become red and inflamed. This can cause a dog to bite these spots which are usually located on their neck, ears, belly, and tail. If left untreated, it can lead to even more skin infections and irritations.

Weight Loss

Fleas feed on your dog’s blood, so if you leave it untreated, your dog may develop anemia which is when your dog’s body doesn’t carry enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to body tissues. This can cause them to lose weight and in severe cases, become lethargic.


One of the consequences of untreated flea infestations in your dog is that they might get tapeworms. If your dog grooms itself while having a flea infestation, it might swallow a flea infected with tapeworm larvae. Tapeworms would complete their life cycle inside your dog’s body and you can usually see them around your dog’s anus or their feces.

How Can I Treat My Dog’s Flea Infestation?

Flea infestations are very common in dogs, which is why there are a handful of remedies at your disposal. It is also important that you know how to treat flea infestations and that you should resolve them before it would cause more health problems in your dog and also to prevent them from reoccurring.

Flea Shampoo For Dogs

Before buying a flea shampoo for dogs, you must consult with your vet for a recommendation. This is because some flea shampoos can dry out your dog’s skin by removing its natural oils. Dogs with an allergy to the protein in flea saliva have more sensitive skin than dogs that don’t, so consulting with a vet for a recommended flea shampoo will prevent any skin irritation and dryness.

Flea Combs

Flea combs are designed with thin bristles that aid in removing fleas from your dog. Fleas can bite and grab onto your dog’s skin, so the thin bristles of the flea combs can pull them and trap them to prevent them from jumping away. Flea combs also work best with a water and dish soap mixture to drown adult fleas.

Regular Grooming

Fleas can always come back, so to prevent reoccurring flea infestations, you should regularly take your dog to the vet for grooming. You can also perform the grooming yourself at home with the proper tools like a flea comb and flea shampoos.

Spray Apple Cider Vinegar Mixture On Your Dog

An apple cider vinegar mixture will help in preventing flea infestations in your dog since fleas don’t like the smell or taste of it. Mix apple cider vinegar and water and put it in a spray bottle. You can add this spray as part of your regular grooming session for your dog.

FAQs About How To Tell If My Dog Has Fleas

Can My Dog Have Fleas If I Don’t See Them?

Yes, your dog may have fleas even if you don’t see them. There are a lot of instances where flea infestations aren’t heavy that you see the fleas on your dog’s coat, but if your dog is showing signs of a flea infestation like excessive scratching, then you should actively look for them on your dog skin with a flea comb or take them to the vet.

What Kills Fleas On Dogs Instantly?

There are common products that can kill fleas within minutes CAPSTAR oral tablet which can kill adult fleas within 30 minutes. Bathing your dog with flea shampoo is also a quick way for you to remove fleas and flea eggs from your dog. Combing your dog with a flea comb works efficiently after a bath to remove the remaining eggs. 

How Do You Check For Fleas?

You can check for fleas by going through your dog’s coat and skin using your fingers, hands, or a flea comb. Fleas can be as small as a seed or as big as an eighth of an inch, so thorough brushing is required. You can also check for flea dirt, which is flea feces, on your dog’s coat and skin.

How Do I Know If My Dog Has Fleas Or Ticks?

The most common and obvious sign of a flea infestation in your dog is excessive scratching and biting. Dogs can be allergic to the protein in flea saliva which irritates their skin. Once you see your dog display this sign, it is best to check their coat and skin for any fleas or ticks.

Can My Dog Sleep In My Bed With Fleas?

No, it is not a good idea to let your dog with fleas sleep on your bed. Flea eggs may fall on your bed from your dog’s coat or skin where they will hatch and get into you or your dog’s skin. Fleas also carry a lot of bacteria and may be infected with tapeworm larvae.

Will Fleas Go Away On Their Own?

No, fleas won’t go away on their own. Fleas are parasites that feed on your dog’s blood. They wouldn’t leave a host body if it can provide food for them. Untreated flea infestations will become worse as fleas will constantly reproduce and feed on your dog to survive. If your dog has a flea infestation, you should perform remedies right away.

Where Do I Look For Fleas On My Dog?

You can look for fleas in the area where your dog bites or scratches the most. Usually, fleas tend to find shelter in places where it is covered and warm, such as your dog’s armpits and belly, but you can usually find fleas around their ears, neck, tail, and paws.

Are Fleas Visible To The Eye?

Yes, fleas are visible. Fleas can get as small as a seed and as big as eight of an inch, but all are visible. The best tool to use when looking for fleas is a flea comb. Flea combs are designed with thin bristles to trap fleas that are latched onto your dog’s skin and coat.


Signs and symptoms for flea infestations in your dog are not hard to miss, so when you see your dog display any of the symptoms, you should bring them to the vet for flea-removing products and home remedies that you can perform to avoid further skin irritations or worse health problems for your dog.

Learn more about the what’s and how’s about your dog at Doggos Daily, where we provide you with all the information that you’ll need.

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by Nicole Barnett

Nicole has been a freelance writer for over 10 years. She has three dogs, two of which she rescued from the streets. When not furiously typing away at her computer, you’d either find her chasing after her adorable dogs and kids, or volunteering at a local shelter.

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