Why Does My Pet Have Fleas & How Do I Remove Them?

The next time you see your dog or cat constantly scratching themselves, you may want to check them for fleas.

This insect is a parasite that can be found on many types of mammals and will suck the blood of their host.

It’s important to know as much as you can about fleas in order to help identify a possible infestation in your home.

What You Need to Know About Fleas


  • Size: 1/12 of an inch
  • Color: Dark brown or black
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Wingless, six-legged, looks flat from either side
  • Whereabouts: On household pets, such as cats or dogs, bedding, socks, linens, etc.

What Fleas Infest

Since fleas are parasites, they will always be found on or around living mammals. Dogs, cats, some birds, and even humans are all prime candidates for fleas to latch onto.

If a flea is not attached to a host for feeding, they will usually be found around the host in bedding, socks, shoes, and housing for pets.

You may not notice an infestation right away because fleas can remain dormant until the perfect conditions arise for them to start feeding.

Read More » What Are the Differences Between Fleas & Bed Bugs?

How Did My Pets Get Fleas?

Do you ever see your dog (or cat) scratch itself for hours upon hours each and every day?

You might want to inspect their fur or bring them to a veterinarian because they could be covered in fleas!

But how could this happen?

Well, there are actually a few ways your furry friend attracted an infestation of fleas.

From Other Animals

One of the most common ways your pet will develop a flea infestation is due to other animals it comes into contact with. Whether this is from another dog, cat, or even a mouse (a pet or uninvited house guest), most fleas don’t care what species their host is. (Shared spaces in apartment buildings can assist with the spreading of fleas.)

Other flea-carrying animals that can come in contact with your pet (or areas in your home) include rodents, squirrels, deer, opossums, and birds.

From Your Home

Fleas infest a wide array of animals (like the list previously mentioned), most of which can be found in your local neighborhood. A single flea that is found on one of these animals can jump ship and stick around in search of a new host.

Fleas can also be introduced via clothing, shoes, bedding, furniture, plush dog toys, etc. Make sure you inspect any second-hand pet supplies, and even your own clothing if you come in contact with other animals.

From the Outside World

While fleas do need a host in order to survive, they can go long periods of time without one as long as they’re in warm and humid conditions. This makes the summer months a dangerous time for those with pets.

Fleas will lay their eggs and look for future hosts as they sit in hidden, shady places. When you bring your pets to the front or back yards, parks, kennels, or their dog houses, give their fur coats a quick glance to look for any pests like fleas (or ticks) that may have latched on.

How Do I Know if I Have a Flea Infestation?

If you believe there’s a flea infestation in your home, then you should read on…

Why Do I Have a Flea Infestation?

Any household with pets is prone to flea infestations, especially in the summertime. Flea infestations occur most in summer because they thrive in warm, moist environments.

Therefore, if your pets go outside in the yard, they are at a high risk for fleas attaching to them. All it takes are a few fleas to turn into a full-blown infestation as they can reproduce at an alarming rate.

Common Signs of a Flea Infestation

  • Finding small black dots on your pets’ fur
  • Pets that continuously scratch or bite themselves excessively
  • Bald spots and small cuts on your pets’ skin
  • Pale gums on your pets (due to the loss of blood)
  • Seeing small black dots jumping around on carpeting, furniture, linens, or drapery

Checking Your Pets for Fleas

Inspect the fur of your pet by dividing the hair with a comb. Fleas will try to run back into the hair so you have to pay close attention. The most common areas are at the base of the ears and toward the behind of the pup or kitty.

Did you find a small bug in your home that resembles a flea?

Try squishing it between your fingertips. Fleas do not squish easily (unlike bed bugs), so if the bug is giving you some trouble, your dog/cat might be infested with fleas.

The Right Way to Rid Your Home of a Flea Problem

Most people will discover an infestation of fleas when they notice them on their dog or cat.

Unfortunately, by the time you do see these fleas, know that they might only make up roughly five percent of the total flea population that now exists in your home.

When it’s time to take action, make sure you rid them from your home the right way!

Protect the Host

Your household pet is most likely the host for many of these fleas. Consult your local veterinarian and see which flea medicine works best for your pet.

There are many different tablets, collars, and shampoos you can choose from in order to keep your furry little friend protected.

Cleaning Your Pet

To remove all of the fleas that are currently feeding on your beloved animal, give it a bath and use a medicated flea shampoo. Rub this shampoo in thoroughly and allow it to sit for 5 to 10 minutes before washing it off.

After drying your pet off, comb through your its fur in search of fleas (do this multiple times per day). Make sure to kill the flea immediately to prevent it from reproducing in the future.

If you happen to have more than one pet, keep the infested pet away from the others. Even if the other pets don’t have fleas at first, still inspect them daily to make sure they don’t develop this problem as well.

Remember — flea collars for all!

Treating Your Home

Once your pet has been washed, collared, and effectively treated with the appropriate medicine, it’s time to show the same love to your home.

  • Start by vacuuming and sweeping all of your carpeting and hard surface floors. Remember to move furniture around, use attachments to get into hard to reach corners, as well as vacuum any furniture. Upon completion, immediately remove the vacuum bag and throw it in the outside trash bin. Afterward, apply a protective flea spray to your carpeting and upholstery since this is where the majority of them settle and lay their eggs.
  • Any clothing, linens, towels, or pet bedding that you believe has been compromised by fleas should be washed on the hottest setting they can handle. If the bedding is old or isn’t too expensive, it may be best to throw it away and start fresh.
  • Take the next step of this treatment outside where the fleas originally come from. Spray your surrounding property with a special flea yard spray so you can let your dog or cat out with peace of mind.

What’s the Best Way to Keep Fleas Away from Your Pets and Home?

Repeat the steps listed above regularly until the flea infestation has been removed.

Daily/Weekly Checklist

  • Inspect your pet for pests like fleas, ticks, and bed bugs routinely.
  • Wash your pet with flea shampoo on a more regular basis while also keeping a flea collar on them at all times.
  • Vacuum carpets and furniture, wash pet supplies, and spray the exterior of your home on a regular basis to ensure flea infestations get out and stay out!

Contact Your Local Pest Management Professionals

There’s only so much one can do in the event of a pest infestation. You’ve handled the fleas on your pets, but removing the rest of the infestation from your home won’t always be solved with a vacuum and some spray you got from the store (even though it is a good start).

When you find fleas in your home, whether it’s a small amount or a full-blown infestation, it’s best to call in the professionals to ensure the infestation will be taken care of properly.

So when your home is struck with a flea infestation, contact the professionals at Knockout Pest Control. To learn more, or to schedule an inspection, give us a call at (800) 244-7378.

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