Wondering how to tell if your dog has fleas? Join the club. It’s a popular question amongst dog owners and one that every single canine lover has asked at some point in their lives.
So, how do you tell? Well, if your dog has been roaming around outside or spent time with other animals and is now itchier and unhappier than he was before, he probably has fleas. But you don’t want to put him through unnecessary flea treatments without being sure, right?
How to Tell if Your Dog Has Fleas in 6 Steps
Roll up your sleeves and get ready to do a thorough flea check – here are a number of ways you can find out for sure!
Inspect your dog’s fur and skin
The easiest flea check ever, this is the first thing you can do to check if your dog is suffering from a flea problem. Simply part your dog’s fur to reveal his skin. If he has fleas, you may catch sight of them running in order to hide.
They’ll look like tiny, dark, flat, oval, fast-moving specks. They especially like to hang out at the base of the ears and near the rump so check these places first. Another thing to watch out for as you look for live, active fleas is flea dirt – aka, flea poop, which looks like
While you’re at it, you can also check his skin – if it’s red and bumpy, it’s likely he has fleas.
Look for flea dirt
Flea dirt is digested dried blood – aka, flea feces. Ew. It looks like small black specks of grit, similar to finely ground pepper.
A quick experiment you can do is to place slightly moist paper towels under your dog and then brush his fur to dislodge any flea dirt that may be hidden in his fur.
Then check the paper towels – if a small red dot or a “halo” appears around the black flecks – it’s flea feces.
Use a flea comb
Make use of a flea comb to carefully go through your dog’s coat, making sure the comb reaches the skin through the coat. See if you can spot moving fleas and inspect the comb for black specks (flea feces) when you pull it off.
Catch a flea
If you manage to catch one of the bugs that are hidden in your dog’s fur, try to squish it between your fingertips. If it squishes easily, it’s probably not a flea – fleas have hardy little shells and don’t squish easily.
Give your dog a bath
With the drain plugged, give your dog a warm bath. If you find little black spots in the water, your dog most likely has fleas.
One thing to keep in mind: if there are little splotches of blood in the water – which will become more apparent when you drain the bathtub – don’t worry that you might’ve unintentionally hurt your dog. The tiny blood specks are actually flea feces that’ve come off your dog and disintegrated in the water.
Set up a flea trap
You can make a DIY flea trap with a small dish of soapy water on the floor. Either place a candle in the middle of the soapy water or place a nightlight nearby. Fleas will jump toward the light and fall in the bowl – if you catch them, you know you have fleas in the house and if they’re in your house, they’re certainly on your dog.
Okay, you’ve done the inspections and…yup, your dog has fleas. What’s next? Let’s find out how to get rid of fleas on dogs – for good.