How to Know When You Have a Flea Problem

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How to Know When You Have a Flea Problem

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Keith's Pro Tips

"Fleas don’t just appear out of nowhere and to control them you first need to find out how they got inside and what hot spots do they hide out in. A detailed inspection for fleas is the first step of getting rid of them."

How to Know You Have a Flea Problem

Fleas can be an irritating, itch-inducing nuisance to have in the home and if measures aren’t taken to control them then they can very quickly multiply their population to out of control proportions. 

While fleas aren’t so small that they cannot be seen by the naked eye, they can be sneaky in the way they operate which makes it hard for them to be detected. Some homeowners don’t realize they even have fleas in the home until it is too late.

The following signs are what you should look out for to be certain you have a flea problem.

Your Pet Is Overly Itchy

Scratching pets

When suspecting that you have a flea problem, you should first look to your pet for answers because fleas often come into the home by first hitching a ride on your pet, their new host.

While your dog scratching themselves a little bit doesn’t necessarily mean it has fleas, a pet that is doing so a lot, scratching in an aggressive manner is usually the most obvious sign you have a flea problem. You can check for fleas on your pet by combing through their fur and looking for any black specks. Check around their tails, armpits, and groin areas.

Remnants of Flea Dirt

Flea dirt found

Adult fleas can often be hard to spot because of their quickness, jumping ability, and their exceptional hiding skills. When you try to look for fleas on your pet, you may find it difficult to see fleas especially if the fur is long and dark-colored. The same goes for if the flea is hiding in the carpeting or on your bed or in furniture. When the fleas themselves aren’t seen, don't automatically conclude that you don't have fleas. There is something you can watch out for and it’s what the fleas themselves leave behind: flea dirt.

Flea dirt is essentially flea poop, a combination or dried up blood and excrement. If a flea infestation is particularly bad the flea dirt will look like tiny black or red specks on your dog – usually on their belly or by the base of the tail. Don’t assume it’s dirt, especially if your dog has been scratching and biting.

To be absolutely sure it is flea dirt, wet the areas with where you notice the specks with water. If they turn red upon contact with water, it is for sure flea dirt.

Fleas in Pet Bedding

Flea life cycle

If you don’t see the fleas themselves or flea dirt, perhaps by some off chance you may notice some small maggot-looking creatures which may likely be flea larvae from a recently hatched flea egg. Flea larvae are usually hard to spot. In the home, they can be deposited in areas such as deep in the carpeting or in cracks and crevices where they won’t be bothered. To survive, flea larvae will nourish itself by feeding on organic material, most likely the feces of the adult fleas.

If you spot flea larvae, you should be very concerned because that means an infestation is growing and there may be other flea eggs that have been laid around your home and will soon hatch out a new generation of irritating fleas.

Check your pet's bedding or anywhere they like to rest for signs of flaes, flea larvae, and flea pupae. Remember, fleas are very small so you will want to take a close look with a flashlight and/or magnifying glass.

White Sock Test for Fleas

Pro tip: You can check for fleas around these areas by performing the white sock test. Put on some white socks and shuffle around the house. The heat and vibrations from your shuffling will stimulate the fleas and they will jump on you. Because you are wearing white socks, you will be able to easily see any fleas that hopped on. 

Fleas are a problem for many home and pet owners, and they can be difficult to get rid of if left alone. Visit our Flea Control Guide for the product you need and step-by-step instructions on how to get rid of them.

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