Four Ways to Tell… Plus Prevention Tips

Bruin is our beloved pup and resident expert in pet safety.

The colder months have arrived in New England! While many pests have either died off or gone dormant for the season, that doesn’t mean you should stop protecting your pets from fleas. As long as these little parasites have a warm body to feed on (aka you or your pet), fleas can comfortably survive the winter. But many pet owners across Western Massachusetts and Northern Connecticut aren’t sure what to look for when it comes to a flea infestation. So how can you tell if your pet has fleas?


How Can You Tell if Your Pet Has Fleas

  • Is your pet itching and scratching? Dogs and cats can be allergic to a protein in the flea’s saliva and will start scratching as soon as the flea bites their skin. Even one single flea bite can cause your pet to scratch excessively for several days!


  • Look for red pimples or bumps. These can appear anywhere on your pet’s body, but pay attention to the belly, under the legs the groin area, base of the tail, and the rump.


  • Do a visual check. Adult fleas are small and brown, and relatively easy to see with the naked eye. Adult flea feces, or flea dirt, looks like small specks of black pepper. Have your pet lie on their side and check any thinly-haired areas such as the abdomen or hindquarters.


  • Try a flea comb. Fine-tooth metal combs are available from most vets and pet stores. Run the comb along the back, underbelly and legs, making sure to come into contact with the skin. If you pull up any fleas, be sure to dispose of them immediately! (Pro-tip: Have some scotch tape at the ready).


How to Protect Your Pets from Fleas

  • Check pets frequently for fleas and flea dirt.  Be aware of excessive scratching, licking and nibbling grooming behavior in pets.
  • On milder winter days, avoid walking pets in tall grass.
  • Check pets after walks or playtime with other animals as fleas can jump from host to host.
  • Talk with a veterinarian about prevention and treatment options available to kill fleas and flea eggs.
  • Wash pet bedding, collars and plush toys regularly.
  • Wash bed linens and vacuum floors and furniture frequently. If you suspect fleas are present, check the vacuum bags/collectors for the presence of live fleas.  Empty and throw the contents away in an outside receptacle if you find fleas.
  • If you have a flea infestation, contact a licensed pest professional immediately to treat the pest problem.  


As always, feel free to call Graduate with any pest concerns! We’ll help protect your furry friends this winter!

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