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Flea Infestation: Signs and Prevention

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

Fleas are considered disgusting due to their disease transmission, discomfort caused by their bites, gross habits, and difficulty in getting rid of them. Although fleas often enter our home by hitching a ride on our pets, not having pets does not guarantee that you don’t have a flea problem.

Signs of a Flea Infestation

Dog scraching his neck with his hind leg
A common sign of a flea problem is seeing your pet scratch or bite at its fur.

Here are the most common signs of a flea infestation:

  • Seeing fleas: Fleas are typically brown, black, or reddish and are less than ⅛-inch in size. If you spot something that color and see it move, you have found a flea.

  • Scratching: If you see your pet scratching or biting at its fur, fleas may well be the culprit. Fleas can cause a sharp pain when they bite, and their salivary glands give off a substance that's irritating to many dogs and cats.

  • Irritated skin: Fleabites are usually small, raised red dots. They can be found on the back and neck and on the base of the tail. Fleabites can lead to flea allergy dermatitis, which can cause your pet's skin to become itchy, red, and scaly. It can also lead to secondary skin infections.

  • Hair loss: Flea bites can cause an allergic reaction that leads to hair loss in pets.

  • Flea dirt: Flea dirt is the feces of fleas and looks like small black or white specks. If you see flea dirt on your pet's skin or bedding, it is a sign of a flea infestation.

  • Pale gums: Fleas can extract so much blood that the amount of new red blood cells produced is not sufficient, leading to anemia. Pale gums in pets can be a symptom of anemia caused by fleas.

  • Bites on humans: Fleabites on humans are usually located on the lower legs and feet and are characterized by red spots surrounded by red halos. They can cause a small sting and then turn into a red, itchy bump.

  • Fleas hopping around: If you see fleas hopping around on your drapery, carpet, or furniture, it is a sign of a flea infestation.

How to Prevent a Flea Infestation

Woman using hand wand to vacuum between couch cushions
Vacuuming the couch and in between the cushions is essential in treating a flea infestation.

Here are some actions you can take to prevent a flea infestation:

  • Vacuum regularly: Vacuuming is one of the most effective ways to prevent a flea infestation. Vacuum all areas of your home, including carpets, bare floors, upholstery, furniture, cracks, and crevices where fleas can hide. Be sure to empty the vacuum bag outside when finished.

  • Wash all bedding: Wash all pet bedding and family bedding on which pets lie in hot, soapy water every two to three weeks. If an infestation is severe, discard old pet bedding and replace it with fresh, clean material.

  • Trim grass and trees in your yard: Fleas like to hide in tall grass and shady areas. Keep your yard mowed and trim your shrubs to reduce shade and discourage wild animals from crawling in your yard and bringing fleas with them.

  • Use flea preventatives: Use flea preventatives on your pets to prevent fleas from infesting your home. There are many different types of flea preventatives available, including topical treatments, collars, and oral medications.

  • Use a flea comb: Use a flea comb to suppress adult fleas. Hair can pass through the comb's teeth, but not the fleas, removing fleas as well as flea feces and dried blood. Especially comb the neck and tail areas, which is where the most fleas congregate.

  • Steam clean carpets: Steam cleaning carpets can kill fleas in all stages of the life cycle.

  • Treat your home: If you suspect a flea infestation in your home, it is important to treat your home to decrease chances of fleas reproducing in your carpets or pillows. You can use carpet sprays or fumigate your home to kill all fleas in all life cycle stages such as eggs, larvae, and pupae.

By knowing the signs and following these preventative measures, you can reduce the risk of a flea infestation in your home. Contact a pest control service if you suspect you have a flea infestation or need help in getting one under control. Learn more about fleas and treatment here.


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