What Do Fleas Look Like?

If you need ask, What do fleas look like? I'm the girl to tell you. I've seen fleas on dogs, cats and humans - mainly me! And I've got a photo.

There are several types of fleas and all of them are sneaky. What I mean is the way they swim through a pet's fur and seem unsquashable if you catch one and just when you think you got it, it jumps backwards and disappears.

Since no other creature I know can do that kind of gymnast  act, if you've experienced that, it's probably a flea. And if you've seen one, there are probably hundreds. Like I said, they're sneaky and very good at hiding as well.

Since this website is about dog health I will lump dog fleas, cat fleas and human fleas together. And while they do range in size, there's not that much difference to us. Honestly, for us 1/16th of an inch is nothing, but not to a flea.

Cat fleas are the most common and readily make a meal of both dog and human blood.

And while fleas can live without making a meal of us, a female needs blood in order to produce offspring.

These 1/16" to 1/8" long insects have three pairs of legs. Their slender tear-drop shape helps them "swim" through our pet's fur. They can be quick, hard to catch and even tougher to crush.

They range from brown to black, can appear striped, are wingless and can jump thirteen feet horizontally and seven feet vertically.

Here's the first of my two pictures of fleas. It answers the question, "What do fleas look like?" And puts the size in perspective doesn't it?

Itching But Can't See Fleas?

If you or your dog are itching and scratching but you're not seeing fleas - look for flea dirt (flea feces). Flea dirt can be easier to find than the fleas themselves. Its dark and grainy like sand.

Check your dog's rump. The spot on the back at the base of the tail is a favorite place for flea gathering and pooping. If your dog has long fur, feel down deep for flea dirt. Its very hard and will not crush like soil. Check bedding and kennel and down inside the sofa. Consider making flea traps.

My Worst Flea Experience

Many years ago, my dog and cats stayed with friends while I went on vacation for two weeks. I flew home late at night and walked in my front door well after midnight.

Even exhausted, it took me less than two minutes to feel the tickling and itching on my legs. I'd never seen anything like it! I was covered in fleas! (To get rid of them without pesticides, start with making your vacuum your best friend to conquer fleas in the house!)

I brushed off as many as I could. I RAN and LEAPED onto my bed. I had over 50 flea bites on each leg! I stayed there until the sun came up, alternating dozing and scratching myself raw.

That experience taught me first hand, more than I ever wanted to know about the flea life cycle.

Here's a magnified view.

Now that I've answered what do fleas look like, it's time I shared a bit more.

Did you know that those adult fleas that bite you and your dog are only 5% of your flea population? Scary isn't it?

Here are a few more things you need to be aware of. I've learned these things the hard way and I'd rather you don't have to go through what I did.

Flea sprays, powders, pills and those direct applications on a dog's neck called flea prevention... are all toxic to dogs. They are chemicals that cause organ damage and shorten the life of our canines. Of course sprays and powders are bad for you too so use them only as a last resort. Then follow up with something natural like diatomaecous earth or borax as I describe in fleas in the house because fleas have become immune to most poisons and will likely make a comeback when you least expect it.

Flea infestations are only a problem with unhealthy dogs. I didn't understand that for so many years but at least I do now. My Lulu, at nearly ten years old doesn't even know what a flea is.




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