itchy cat scratching face.

Like all uninvited guests, parasites have a pretty terrible reputation. Not only responsible for wreaking havoc on a pet’s comfort and well-being, they’re known to spread disease. There are some pretty major signs your pet might have fleas, but sometimes these can go unnoticed. Before long, you could have a full infestation on your hands. We’re here to help prevent this from happening to your pet and home, so you can have the relaxing, enjoyable summer you’ve been waiting for.  

The Outside In

Fleas are parasitic insects that depend on hosts for their survival. They are wingless, but they have the ability to jump an average of seven inches high. Due to their ability to reproduce and thrive on an ideal host (and inside or near an optimal environment), the only way to mitigate their impact is to break their life cycle. 

Breakin It Down

Within one week, a single flea can produce up to forty eggs a day! Because it takes less than a month for a flea to reach sexual maturity, one flea can lead to a massive number of parasites on a pet and/or within the home. 

Their four distinct life stages include egg, larvae, pupas, and adults. If conditions are right, they can live up to an entire year. Because they are so small (less than ⅛ of an inch long), it can be incredibly hard to spot them at first. Adult fleas are dark brown or black, but their hard plates can turn red after a blood meal. Equipped with a proboscis, fleas pierce the host’s skin to eat. 

That’s Bad Enough

What’s worse than a flea sucking your pet’s blood? The itching, of course! Many pets are allergic to the protein found in flea saliva. Deposited on the skin and site of the blood meal, this protein can cause immediate itching and compulsive scratching at the site. Of all the major signs that your pet might have fleas, it is the increased agitation caused by their saliva/bite that signals cause of concern. 

Itchy Cat, Itchy Dog

Owners may also notice the following red flags that their pet might have fleas:

  • Redness, bumps, or swelling
  • Dry skin
  • Patchy fur

Left alone, excessive scratching can lead to secondary skin infections as bacteria can enter open wounds caused by repetitive licking, biting, rubbing on furniture or carpet, or scratching. 

While your pet’s comfort is a priority, it is essential to prevent the following flea-borne disease:

  • Plague
  • Tapeworm (internal parasite)
  • Flea-borne typhus
  • Bartonellosis (also known as cat-scratch disease)

What Can You Do?

During routine grooming, use a flea comb to check for any “flea dirt,” or flea feces. Appearing as sand or pepper, flea dirt can signal the need for immediate action. We can help you find the right products to eliminate fleas, including pet-safe shampoos, powders, sprays and more. In serious cases, prescription medications and antibiotics may be required. 

To ensure that your pet never suffers the grim prospects of a flea infestation and/or flea allergy, we advocate for year-round parasite prevention. Please call us at (603) 926‑7978 if you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s wellness.

Hampton Veterinary Hospital is always here to help your pet thrive.