Itchy Skin – Does it Mean Fleas?

If your pet is scratching or nibbling at their fur does this mean they have fleas? Maybe, but not necessarily. Irritated skin can be a result of many problems such as infection, allergies, ear problems and other illnesses. However, it is a good idea to rule out fleas as they are extremely irritating and when left to breed and multiply, they can cause other related issues such as flea allergic dermatitis, parasites or skin infections. Not to mention the fact that your entire household and backyard may become a breeding ground for fleas! So how do you tell if your pet has fleas?

A Closer Look at Your Pet’s Fur

The best way to tell if your cat or dog has fleas is to look at his/her coat. What are you looking for?

You are looking for two things. Flea dirt that looks like small black specks of grit, similar to finely ground pepper. This is actually digested dried blood. Secondly, the fleas themselves. Fleas are much easier to find on pets with white or light colored coats. They are approximately the size of a pinhead and are often seen jumping or moving through the coat.

The best place to look

The easiest places to look are areas where they have the least amount of hair or in locations where fleas like to live.

Look for areas on your pet with the least amount of hair, in particular the abdomen (stomach). The main area that fleas like to gather is over the lower back, in front of the tail. To find fleas or their dried digested blood, simply part the hair over the lower back. Do this in several areas through your pet’s coat.  A fine comb is helpful too.

What to do next?

If you find fleas, check our web site ( or contact us to find out what your options are. If you don’t find fleas and your pet continues to itch or scratch, please call to schedule an appointment. It’s best to do this sooner rather than later as an obsessed scratcher can do a lot of damage to their skin in a short period of time.