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Fleas and Ticks
5 Pet Health Problems Fleas Can Cause Advantage II FAQ Benefits of Flea & Tick Preventatives for Pets Benefits of Flea Pills, Oral Chewables, and Tablets Can Pets Get Fleas During Cold Weather? Choosing the Best Collar Flea Prevention Choosing the Best Oral Flea Prevention Choosing the Best Topical Flea Prevention Control Your Pet's Itching and Allergies from Fleas Does Salt Kill Fleas? Ehrlichia in Dogs: Symptoms and Treatment Establish Effective Pet Flea Prevention Exotic Ticks Found in United States Flea & Tick Control: Frontline Plus or NexGard? Flea and Tick: FAQs About Fleas Flea and Tick: FAQs About Flea Treatments Flea and Tick: FAQs About Ticks How do Oral Flea Preventatives Work? How do Topical Flea Preventatives Work? How to Apply Flea and Tick Medication How to Fog Your Home to Remove Fleas How to Get Rid of Fleas in Your Home How to Get Rid of Fleas on Ferrets How to Get Rid of Fleas on Kittens How to Get Rid of Fleas on Puppies How to Kill Fleas in Your Yard How to Kill Fleas on Your Puppy How to Prevent Fleas on Your Cat How to Prevent Fleas on Your Dog How to Remove a Tick from a Dog How to Spray Your Yard for Fleas How to Use a Flea Comb How to Use a Flea Spray on Pets How to Use Flea Prevention Effectively Indoor Flea Control Is Bravecto Safe? Is NexGard Safe? K9 Advantix II FAQ Killing Flea Eggs with Insect Growth Regulators Outdoor Flea Control Relieve Your Cat's Flea Itching Relieve Your Dog's Flea Itching Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in Pets Steps To Tackle a Pet Flea Infestation Tick Paralysis in Dogs Top 4 Flea Myths Every Pet Owner Should Know What do fleas look like? What Flea Treatment Is the Best for My Cat? What Flea Treatment Is the Best for My Dog? When Flea Preventatives Fail Which Is the Best Flea Prevention for Your Pet? Why Does My Pet Need Flea & Tick Prevention? Why Has My Pet's Flea Medicine Stopped Working?

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What do fleas look like?

Side profile of close-up of a flea

Just in case you're not familiar with fleas, they are small parasites that typically jump onto dogs and cats and feed on their blood. Because they are very tiny, about 2 millimeters long, fleas can be hard to spot on pets, especially pets with dark-colored coats. Adult fleas are a reddish, brown creature with six legs and a thin flat body covered with hair. Fleas don't have wings, but they are able to jump great distances from host to host.

Flea life cycle and what they look like

4-Stage Lifecycle of fleas: Eggs, Larvae, Pupae, Adult


Fleas go through a 4-stage lifecycle. Generally, when you see a flea, it'll be an adult flea that usually lives for about 2-3 months. Once an adult female flea has her first feeding of blood, she'll lay eggs. In just one month a female flea can lay over 2,000 eggs in a month. The eggs are less than a millimeter in size and look like a white, tiny grain of salt. Flea eggs can easily get into and attach to carpet and furniture fibers, which can be hard to completely vacuum up.

Larvae then hatch from the flea eggs. These tiny, worm-resembling larvae are white in color with pale hairs. As they prepare for the pupal stage, they feed on what is known as flea dirt, which is actually flea waste. After the larval stage, the larvae form into a cocoon that is a small and sticky casing. Pupae then emerge from the cocoons as adult fleas that feed on a host (your pet) to begin the cycle once more.

How to tell my pet has fleas?


Close-up of two fleas on white fur


Spotting fleas on your pet is very unlikely since they are so small in size, especially if your pet's fur is a darker color. If your pet has light fur, you might be able to see little black specs moving about the fur. You might also see flea dirt spread through your pet's fur, on bed sheets, or other surfaces your pet spends time on.

Fleas bite and suck blood from your pet as often as up to every 5 minutes, which can cause your pet pain. Each bite from a flea leaves a small red sore on your pet's skin. If your pet has fleas, you'll know by changes in behavior. It's likely your pet suffers from a flea infestation if you notice any of the following:

  • Excessive scratching
  • Excessive licking or grooming
  • Biting at the skin
  • Hair loss as a result of excessive grooming and scratching
  • Small, red inflamed bumps on your pet's skin, usually in a line
  • Pale gums, due to loss of blood

When are fleas most active?


Fleas can be a threat to your pets year-round, especially in warmer climates. Fleas thrive in warm temperatures with high temperature. Late spring, summer, and early fall are considered the high season when fleas become most active. Even in the offseason, fleas may still be active and hop onto your pet. Remember, prevention is the key to keep your pet safe from fleas.

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