Home > Fleas - How to Spot Them

Determining If Your Pet Has Fleas

Fleas are a common problem, but if your pet is itchy, there are a variety of other factors that could be to blame. Here's how to determine whether your pet has fleas or if there could be other components at play.

Fleas multiply quickly, so if your pet has them and they're left untreated, you'll soon see all of the telltale signs of a flea infestation.

Using just your hand or a comb, do a visual check by combing backward through the coat.
Fleas tend to migrate to the neck area where the coat is thick, so a visual inspection needs to be slow thorough. Fleas are small and quick, so using a fine-toothed comb and a headlamp can really give you an advantage here. In addition to checking the neck area, look for fleas where the fur is thinner, such as in the armpits. Although fleas don't generally stay here, fleas passing through can be much more easily spotted. If you see one flea, chances are there are more.

Don't see any? Check for these other signs of a flea problem:


Bites will be especially apparent if your dog has a flea allergy, which is highly common. Saliva from flea bites is irritating to most animals, including humans. If you have a flea infestation, you'll notice the bites on your pet's skin. You may even notice bites on your own body, particularly if your pet sleeps close to your skin.

Flea Dirt

As you're brushing your pet, keep him or her on a white towel or very light surface such as white tile. Take note of any tiny black flecks falling off. You may also notice tiny black flecks in his bed or in your own bedding, although these will really only be apparent on light fabrics.
Flea dirt is a telltale sign of flea presence. What is the stuff? The flecks coming off your pet are actually flea excrement, which the flea leaves behind after a blood meal.

If you find flea dirt to indicate that the flea has had a meal, it's important to implement a strategy for eradication right away. A blood meal is a right of passage for a flea, allowing it to be fully reproductive. This means you can have hundreds of fleas in your home and on your pet within just a few weeks.
We can help you choose a natural, a chemical or a combination route for treating and eradicating fleas.

Not sure if it's flea dirt or just Rover rolling over?
Dirt from the yard and dirt from fleas can look very similar. To be sure, drop these flecks onto a wet paper towel. If the particles dissolve into a reddish (from blood) brown, it's flea dirt.