How to Remove Fʟᴇᴀs From Your Pet

If your dog or cat has fʟᴇᴀs, medication is a must. Getting the bugs off your pet is important, too. It cuts ᴅᴏᴡɴ the number of itchy, ɪʀʀɪᴛᴀᴛing ʙɪᴛᴇs your pet gets -- and helps keep fʟᴇᴀs out of your home.

How do you do it?

1. Cᴏᴍʙ Your Pet’s Hair Using a Fine-Tooth Fʟᴇᴀ Cᴏᴍʙ

The teeth on a fʟᴇᴀ ᴄᴏᴍʙ are spaced to ᴛʀᴀᴘ fʟᴇᴀs while they allow your pet’s fur to pass thʀᴏᴜɢʜ. Fʟᴇᴀ ᴄᴏᴍʙs also help remove fʟᴇᴀ ᴘᴏᴏᴘ, sometimes called “fʟᴇᴀ dirt” — dark brown or black specks that look like pepper flakes. Be sure to take special care while you ᴄᴏᴍʙ around your pet’s neck and tail areas. That’s where fʟᴇᴀs tend to feed.

2. Give Your Pet a Bath

Just lukewarm water, or water and a mild soap, can help get fʟᴇᴀs off your pet’s fur and skin. If you’re thinking about using a fʟᴇᴀ shampoo or something similar, talk to your ᴠᴇᴛerinarian first. If your pet is ᴀʟʟᴇʀɢic to fʟᴇᴀs (your ᴠᴇᴛ may call it fʟᴇᴀ ᴀʟʟᴇʀɢy ᴅᴇʀᴍᴀᴛɪᴛɪs), its skin might be especially sᴇɴsɪᴛɪᴠᴇ. That’s also true if your pet has any other open ᴡᴏᴜɴᴅs or “raw spots” on its skin. Some of the chemicals in fʟᴇᴀ products can make ɪʀʀɪᴛᴀᴛion and ɪɴfᴇᴄᴛions ᴡᴏʀsᴇ.

While a bath can help your pet, it’s not a must. If you’re worried about how your pet will react, it’s OK to skip this step.

3. Do Regular Checks

If your pet has a history of fʟᴇᴀs, ᴄᴏᴍʙ your friend with a fʟᴇᴀ ᴄᴏᴍʙ at least once a week until you’re sure that your home and pet are free of fʟᴇᴀs.

4. Kɪʟʟ the Fʟᴇᴀs

The little buggers are usually between the size of a poppy seed and a sesame seed, and they’re brown or reddish brown. If you see a fʟᴇᴀ on the fʟᴇᴀ ᴄᴏᴍʙ, dunk the ᴄᴏᴍʙ into hot, soapy water to ᴋɪʟʟ the fʟᴇᴀ. Don’t try to ᴄʀᴜsʜ fʟᴇᴀs. They jump quickly and can be hard to ᴋɪʟʟ by hand.

5. Let Your Pet Groom Itself

Cats clean themselves more when they have fʟᴇᴀs. They’re not just itching. Researchers say the extra work helps cats get rid of fʟᴇᴀs. Many dogs also groom themselves more often when they have fʟᴇᴀs. In most cases, that’s OK. But if your pet is nipping, chewing, or sᴄʀᴀᴛᴄʜing at itself enough that you notice hair ʟᴏss or red, ɪɴfʟᴀᴍᴇᴅ, or ʙʟᴏᴏᴅy skin, call your ᴠᴇᴛ right away. Your animal may have an ɪɴfᴇᴄᴛion or a fʟᴇᴀ ᴀʟʟᴇʀɢy.

Keep in mind that you may not find fʟᴇᴀs on your pet, even if your ᴠᴇᴛ has confirmed your pet has been ʙɪᴛten by fʟᴇᴀs. They live in carpets, bedding, and other surfaces in your home. They jump onto pets (and sometimes humans) to ᴇᴀᴛ, but they usually don’t stay once they’re done ᴇᴀᴛing.

If you’re not sure if your pet has fʟᴇᴀs, see your ᴠᴇᴛ to make sure.

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