Veterinary Resources

Flea Fact Sheet

Fleas can hide in your pet’s fur, and they’re very small, so they’re difficult to discover.

Veterinary Resources

Flea Factsheet

What do fleas look like?
Fleas are small and very quick moving, so it can be hard to spot them. To the human eye, fleas look like little dark red or brownish ovals. If you do spot a flea, be prepared for it to disappear suddenly as it crawls or jumps away.

What does flea dirt look like?
Sometimes you may not see the fleas themselves, but you may see ‘flea dirt’ which is actually flea faeces. The way to tell the difference between flea dirt and regular dirt is to take some and put it on a wet tissue – flea dirt will stain the tissue red.

Flea Lifecycle
Each female flea can produce 40-50 eggs a day, and can live on your pet for almost 2 months. That’s up to 2,000 eggs a lifetime!

Only 5% of an infestation is adult fleas – the ones you see on your pet! The environment actually holds 95% of fleas, making it hard to know just how big the problem is. Breaking the flea cycle is a vital first step in stopping repeat infestations.

Controlling the outbreak
Step 1. Kill the adult fleas with flea treatment
Products such as Capstar will kill all adult fleas on your pet and lasts 24 hours. Keeping the fleas away will require a longer acting product such as Bravecto, Nexgard, Frontline, or Simparica.

Step 2. Vacuum entire house and treat with flea control product

Step 3. Wash bedding with hot water and spray with flea control product

Step 4. Vacuum daily for up to 8 weeks, to keep flea infestation under control

Consequences of flea infestation
Aside from the obvious itchiness for both human and pet, there are some medical consequences that can occur with flea infestations.

In severe infestations, your pet could get flea bite anaemia due to losing so much blood from the flea bites. Small or young animals are most susceptible to this.

Flea allergy dermatitis happens when a flea bite triggers an allergic reaction in response to the flea’s saliva. It can cause patches of very itchy and red skin that may need to be treated by the vet.

Fleas can be infected with tapeworm larvae and if they are ingested by your pet during grooming, the tapeworm can develop into an adult tapeworm. This can cause weight loss or an itchy bottom in your pet. You may see little segments of the tapeworm around the anus!