Does My Dog Have Fleas? Signs and Symptoms To Watch

Allowing your fleas to infest your dog can lead a wide range of unpleasant symptoms. Along with itching and scratching (which are the most obvious symptoms), they may also exhibit signs of lethargy from a transmittable disease. But the sooner you spot a flea infestation on your dog, the easier it will be to handle.


Dog scratching from flea bites: photo by blmurch.

Itching and Scratching

As previously stated, the most common symptom of a flea infestation on a canine is itching and scratching. Fleas are parasitic creatures that feast on a host’s blood. Once they’ve found their way into your dog’s fur coat, they’ll bite into the skin to draw blood. As the flea drinks their blood, they’ll inject a small amount of saliva back into the host, and some dogs may exhibit signs of an allergic reaction from this saliva.

If your dog is allergic to flea saliva, they’ll suffer from an intense itching sensation upon biting. This forces the dog to scratch and bite the area uncontrollably in an effort to calm this sensation. Although this may initially offer some temporary relief, it doesn’t solve the root cause of the problem — which is the actual flea infestation.

Red Bumps


Checking for fleas: photo by cmdrgravy.

Of course, another sign that your dog is suffering from fleas is the presence of small red bumps throughout their body. Again, these bumps are the direct result of fleas biting into the flesh to draw blood. A typical flea bite on a dog looks similar to that of an ant bite on a human; there’s usually a single pin-head-sized dog in the center ‘mound’ surrounding by a general redness.

Identifying these small red bumps may or may not be an easy task. Dogs with thin hair, such as the short-haired Chihuahua, tend to show flea bites more prominently than dogs with long hair.

Tips For Identifying Fleas and Flea Bites In Dogs

If you’re still struggling to identify fleas and flea bites on your dog, follow the tips below:

  • Shine a headlamp or flashlight on your dog while running a flea comb through their coat.
  • When you notice a flea, pick it up with your fingers and drop it into a cup of soapy water.
  • Do not attempt to kill fleas by squishing them between your fingers, as this doesn’t work.
  • Watch for areas on the skin that’s red, missing hair or otherwise ‘disturbed.’