9 min read

Help! My Cat Or Dog Has Fleas!

The worst 😬

does my dog or cat have fleas

Fleas are the worst — they’ll drive your cat or dog crazy with itching, and they can even cause serious health issues. Which means it’s important to get rid of them as soon as they pop up.

Why fleas are a serious problem

If your dog or cat gets fleas, it’s important to understand how annoying — and dangerous — they can be.

Aside from the intense itching and scratching that comes along with them, your pet can also suffer from infections due to all that itching. Fleas can even cause allergies, tapeworms — which happen if your pet eats an infected flea — or flea-bite anemia, which can be deadly if not treated.

And not just that, but once you see a flea, there are likely many more bouncing around out of sight.
 
“A wise man once said that for every flea you see there are 10 more!” Dr. John Sangiorgio, a veterinarian from CompeteCare Veterinary Center in New York City, told The Dodo.

If your dog or cat is suffering from fleas, you need to work fast. Dr. Sangiorgio says there are three key things you should treat: your pet, your pet’s bedding and their environment (which means your house).

Here’s how to do that:

Treat your pet

The first thing you’ll want to do is treat the source of the fleas: your pet.
 
Since your cat or dog already has fleas, Dr. Sangiorgio said, they should be treated with a topical or systemic (aka oral) flea treatment. Make sure to consult with your veterinarian about which treatments are safe to use for your individual pet.
 
“A good shampoo is also necessary to rid the pet of 'flea dirt' — which is the eggs and bowel movement of the fleas,” Dr. Sangiorgio said. “I don’t recommend any particular brand — they’re all basically the same — but at my office we use Bio-Groom.”
 
You can get Bio-Groom here:
Buy Bio-Groom BG Sham Flea Tick Dog on Chewy for $8.25
Buy Bio-Groom Flea & Tick Conditioning Cat Shampoo on Chewy for $17.19
 
While some people wonder about flea collars, Dr. Sangiorgio says they’re very old-school and simply don’t work as well as newer products. “This is because fleas like the rump area best and a collar around the neck is too far to work well,” Dr. Sangiorgio said. “Another reason to avoid them is most contain organophosphates, a class of organic compounds that could cause increased nasal discharge, diarrhea and respiratory problems.” Some pet owners also report serious or even fatal reactions to flea collars, so it’s best to avoid them if you can get your hands on a newer product.

Clean your pet’s bedding

Once you’ve treated your pet, wash your pet’s bedding in super hot, soapy water — this will help to kill those pesky fleas and all their pesky eggs.

Get fleas out of your house

Fleas are notoriously hard to get rid of, so you’ll also need to clean and treat every area of your house where they could be hiding or they could reinfect your pet. 
 
Vacuum all carpets, flooring and vacuum-friendly furniture — and then make sure you throw out the vacuum bag so they don’t find their way back!
 
It’s best to consult a professional exterminator who can advise you on the best plan for your individual home and family. According to Dr. Sangiorgio, one option to consider is getting your house fogged so that your pet doesn’t get reinfested.
 
It’s important to note that flea bombs and foggers are toxic to humans and pets as well as fleas, so you need to plan accordingly and make arrangements to have everyone out of the house — and then thoroughly cleaned — before going back. 

Preventing fleas 

The best way to treat fleas, however, is to prevent them in the first place. Make sure your pet is on a consistent preventative medication to ensure you never have to worry about them.
 
Preventative medications come in the form of topical medications — like drops or something else that gets put directly on your pet’s skin — or systemic medications — like oral chews that you give your pet to ingest.
 
“Systemic means an oral dose that, depending on the product, can last from one to three months. I recommend this for clients with young children,” Dr. Sangiorgio said, so you don’t have to worry about your kids accidentally touching a topical product.
 
Recommended Oral Flea Prevention:
Buy Bravecto Chews for Dogs on Chewy for $56.99
Buy Capstar Flea Tablets for Cats on Chewy for $24.22

Recommended Topical Flea Prevention:
Buy Revolution Topical Solution for Dogs on Chewy for $119.74
Buy Revolution Topical Solution for Cats on Chewy for $121.52
 
While there are tons of products to choose from, check out this article on some of the best vet-recommended flea and tick medications: Our 8 Favorite Vet-Recommended Flea and Tick Products.

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