What do fleas look like on a dog?

By the Easy Protect team!

Knowing what a dog flea looks like can be tricky! That's because they actually have four main stages of their life-cycle, from egg to adult fleas, which we'll break down further in this article - along with the signs and symptoms of fleas on your dog. We also published this comprehensive article on flea treatment for dogs if you want to learn more.

If you want to see what flea bites on humans look like, please see this article on what are fleas.

So what does a dog flea look like?

Below are a few pictures of adult fleas on dogs, and also what a cat flea looks like to help you identify them. But depending on 'how many' your dog has, it also depends on how they look - naturally, the more specks there, the easier they are to see.

What does a dog flea look like? Here's an example:

The size of an adult flea on a human finger nail:

What are the dog flea symptoms?

When checking for the signs of fleas, probably one of the most obvious signs that your dog has them, is if they are scratching more than expected, biting themselves and grooming more than normal, or shaking her head like they've water in their ears (which could also be mites), then this behaviour can certainly indicate that your dog has fleas.

But you need to be careful to not just jump to conclusions! Thankfully a quick inspection of your dog's fur and skin for specs and dirt should quickly tell you if your dog is infested, usually in the form of flea dirt.

What do dog flea dirt look like?

After an egg hatches from female fleas, they start to enter what's called the larval stage. Larvae can - and do freely move around and feed on digested blood from your dog or animal, or grossly, fleas feed on other their own poop, called flea dirt. And because adults and flea larvae take meals from your dog or pup, knowing what their dirt or specks looks like is usually the simplest way to detect if your dog is infested. 

Checking for flea dirt requires a fine-toothed comb then after brushing, look for minute brown dots that are not moving. Take these dots (which is essentially ingested blood) and drop the flea dirt on a wet tissue. If the dirt turns red from the wet tissue, you know it's blood and your dog has most likely got an active infestation. 

Checking your dog however, is pretty straightforward. You can use a fine-toothed comb - and after you brush your dog, look for tiny brown dots that may or may not be moving about. As dog and animal parents, it's our job to keep watch for “dirt”, which is flea poo in your pet’s fur. Flea dirt is essentially ingested blood, so to check this, drop the dirt on a wet tissue, and it will turn red - unlike actual dirt that may just be in your dog's fur.

Note: You don't really need a special flea comb to find flea faeces or signs of fleas, but your comb does need to be fine toothed to work. If you can not see the fleas directly due to their movement, thankfully flea dirt does not move.

Does flea dirt mean an infestation?

In most cases, it does, and if your dog is not on parasite protection plan like Easy Protect for dogs, then you can almost 100% conclude that your dog has these blood-sucking parasites.

If you're in Australia, preventing fleas with a service like Easy Protect is super easy, just click here!

Further symptoms of fleas on your dog.

If you've diagnosed the dirt, it's worth investigating a little further. Your dog's skin could be irritated, showing red spots from the flea poo, bites, or even have scabs if they've had an infestation for some time from these parasites.

Your dog may also have bitten their skin so often that you may see a loss of hair. In this case, it is strongly advised that you visit your local Vet clinic for further help and get your dog back to health. 

How do you stop the flea life cycle?

The reason monthly parasites treatments are so necessary in Australia, is because the flea egg and lifecycle is extremely hard to beat once infestation kicks in. You may be able to rid your dog's infestation, but you may not be able to rid your home of them for many months.

Once you've treated your pet with a flea tick and worming subscription such as Easy Protect, and if your dog had a serious infestation, been to see your local Vet, you'll now need to get rid of these parasites from your home to get rid of not just adults, but also the eggs, larvae and flea pupae too.

Easy Protect delivers Nexgard Spectra, and this is one way to get the best prevention against fleas not only on your dog, but in your home too!

How to kill fleas in the house.

When cleaning your home, the way to kill fleas in your home is to be sure to focus on fabrics like carpets, couches and beds where these parasites can bury themselves. Basically, anywhere warm a flea would love to be.

Here are a few ways on how to kill fleas in the house:

  • Vacuum frequently for about 8-weeks after noticing the infestation to suck up as many eggs and larvae as possible. Remember to empty your vacuum bag too, or cleaner too after every go as fleas can live in there if you don't do this!

  • Wash your pet’s toys, blankets and bedding in as hot soapy water as possible to kill as many eggs, larvae and pupae as possible. Be sure to hot wash your own bedding too, and also the curtains, throw cushions, couch covers, you name it. 

  • Use a dedicated home flea spray to stop further development of eggs and larvae in hard-to-reach places. You can also use a flea-bomb, and we go into more detail about flea sprays here: https://www.itchoff.com.au/flea-treatment-for-dogs

  • Clean your car too, even if your dog never goes in the car! That's because you may have actually carried the flea infestation or eggs into your car unknowingly. Like couches and curtains, your car's interior has many lovely places that these parasites like to hide out and wait for their next blood-meal to come along.

What attracts fleas to a house?

It's often our pets that bring fleas into our homes; however, you also may have picked up a flea infestation too! We're mentioning this because if you don't notice any on your dog, that does not mean you don't have fleas in your home - your dog is just likely to pick them up yet!

Like to give your dog 24/7 parasite protection the easy way? Checkout Easy Protect's flea tick and worm treatment for dogs!

Australia's cheapest
& easiest Spectra!

Australia's cheapest
& easiest Spectra!

About the Author, Dr. Tegan and our petcare team.

Over 1,000 dogs a week go to Aussie Vet clinics - from owners forgetting their dog's parasite prevention. That's why Dr Tegan helped start Easy Protect, and her team love writing helpful articles for Aussie dog owners.

About the Author, Dr. Tegan and our petcare team.

Over 1,000 dogs a week go to Aussie Vet clinics - from owners forgetting their dog's parasite prevention. That's why Dr Tegan helped start Easy Protect, and her team love writing helpful articles for Aussie dog owners.