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How Do You Know if Your Dog Has Fleas?

small dog running toward you on trail with sun fading in the background
Dr. Rick Coufal, DVM

Dr. Rick Coufal, DVM

Dr. Rick Coufal is the founder and lead veterinarian for Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic. Coufal graduated from State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in May of 2000.

When taking care of your pet, the list of worries about their health and happiness may grow a lot larger than you originally signed up for. In an ideal world, you would be able to spend all of your moments with your pet, but keeping a constant eye while they enjoy your backyard, dog parks, or hikes around Colorado Springs is difficult. This is why, at Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic, we emphasize the importance of educating pet owners so they can care for their pets in a way that prevents health problems from arising.

As the weather gets warmer in Colorado Springs, fleas become a more common issue among dogs that spend a lot of time outside and visit dog parks. Dogs love to soak up the sun, but in doing so, it is easy for fleas to become quickly irritating and even painful for pets.

small dog running toward you on trail with sun fading in the background

Signs Your Dog Has Fleas

Is your dog scratching and biting their fur a lot lately? They may have fleas. Fleas, the most common type called Ctenocephalides felis (or cat flea), are parasites that live on animals to consume their blood. They can cause your pet irritation with their bites and the substance given off their salivary glands.

So how do you know if your dog is suffering from fleas or if it is just common pet allergy symptoms? There are a various clues you can look for, including:

  1. The fleas themselves – Although small (only an eighth of an inch), these thin, reddish-brown parasites can be seen in your pet’s fur
  2. “Flea dirt” – this “dirt” looks like pepper and can be spotted on your pet’s fur or throughout your home on the carpet, couches, blankets, etc.
  3. Loss of fur – if your pet is dealing with fleas, they may be losing fur from scratching and biting so much
  4. Irritated skin – fleabites create red, raised bumps on your pet’s skin, which are most commonly found on the back of your pet’s neck and the base of their tail.

How Do You Treat Fleas?

One of the best ways to treat fleas is by using flea and tick control. There are many different kinds of flea treatments including:

  • Oral tablets
  • Topical flea solutions
  • Sprays and shampoos

With so many options available, it is important to do your research on which one will work best for your pet. To best treat your pet, we recommend asking your vet before picking a treatment off the shelf.

If you want to try a more natural route or can’t get to your vet anytime soon, some natural ways to can treat fleas include:

  • Bathing your pet
  • Catching fleas with a flea comb
  • Washing bedding and vacuuming regularly

Overall, the best way to treat fleas is to avoid them in the first place. There are various things you can be knowledgeable about that will help prevent your pet from getting fleas.

Preventing Fleas in Dogs

Because fleas can jump from animal to animal, there are various ways your pet can contract fleas, so it is important that you are aware of the following hotspots:

  1. Other animals
  2. Your home
  3. Pet facilities
  4. Outdoors

Other animals

If you love to go hiking or visit the dog park with your dog, be sure you are cautious about which animals your pet gets close to. Fleas are capable of jumping from animal to animal, whether dog to dog or wildlife to dog. 

Your home

Unfortunately, your pet is still vulnerable to fleas inside your home. Lots of things can carry fleas into your home, including visiting pets and clothing. Seeing as female fleas can lay up to 40 eggs in a day, ensuring visiting pets have recently been treated for fleas and keeping your home clean are preventative measures that should be taken.

Pet facilities

As an owner, it is also your responsibility to check in on any pet facilities you use. So many different animals go in and out of those facilities, so you will want to ask the facility about their policies regarding cleanliness and the steps they take if there was a case of fleas in their facility.


Fleas don’t tend to live outdoors as they survive by using pets as hosts. Even so, it is a good idea to use a flea comb on your pet if you are concerned about something they may have been exposed to in the surrounding area. It is also good practice to check for ticks if your pet was in a wooded area.

Treating Fleas: How Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic Can Help

At Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic, we understand that a case of fleas affects the quality of life for both you and your pet. If you suspect that your dog or cat may have fleas and you would like assistance, Contact us to schedule an exam. Our wellness exams will check the condition of your pet’s skin, ears, nose, and eyes for possible signs of fleas or other health conditions. The loving staff and expert care at Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic will bring comfort to both of you during this uncomfortable time.

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Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic is seeking an enthusiastic and caring veterinarian to work relief, part-time or full-time in our general practice. PVC is a full-service, 3+ doctor, small-animal veterinary hospital. We have established an excellent reputation for developing lasting relationships with our clients and for providing compassionate and quality care to our patients.