Although there are several ways for fleas to enter your home, pets are often the initial cause. Pets are first infested by fleas while outside or while in contact with another animal that already has fleas. Flea infestations are most easily found by an examination of your pet. If you dog or cat seems to be itching more than usual, you should check for fleas. If fleas are found on your pet, you should move to checking your home to see if the infestation has spread. You can also detect an infestation by seeing a flea in your home or feeling a bite.
Although there are several ways for fleas and ticks to enter your home, your pet can often be the initial cause. Pets are first infested by fleas when they are outside or when they are in contact with another infested animal. Wildlife, including opossums, raccoons, and untreated cats and dogs can deposit flea eggs into a yard. You can reduce flea infestations by limiting the access these animals have around your house and yard. Flea eggs and larva are very difficult to see and under the right conditions can easily thrive in your yard and home.
Flea infestations are most easily confirmed by examining your pet. A telltale sign of infestation is excessive scratching by your pet. If you are unsure, check with your veterinarian. Not all scratching is necessarily an indication of a flea infestation.
Part your pet's fur in several places and look for tiny black pepper-like specks, known as "flea dirt," scattered on your pet's skin that are actually flea feces. Although they are very tiny, fleas can be seen scurrying along the surface of your pet's skin. Since fleas do not like light, they prefer hiding in your pet's fur. Their favorite spots include the base of the ears and the rump (just in front of the tail). Look closely at places with less hair like on your pet's belly and inner thighs as this will provide you with the best chances of spotting a flea.
Ticks attach to the body and feed by sucking blood. They do not jump like fleas, but rather crawl slowly. Ticks prefer to live in dry, warm places near their hosts, such as bedding and furniture. Ticks can attach themselves to any part of the dog's skin, but are generally found around the ears, between the toes, and sometimes in the armpits. Ticks lay eggs in small cracks around your home, which can make them difficult to locate and eliminate. A tick infestation may also cause your pet to become lethargic. It is very important to promptly remove any ticks in order to prevent tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Contact your veterinarian to determine the best flea or tick removal solution for you and your pet.