What Do Flea Bites Look Like?

What do flea bites look like? And how to stop them from invading your pets and home and YOU.

Let’s not sugar coat it— fleas and flea bites are a menace and the thought of a small bug sucking the blood of your beloved pet, or you, can make anyone angry. Not only do they look gross, flea bites can cause discomfort, and they may start infecting you and your home as well as your pet if you don’t catch an infestation early. 

flea on human skin up closeWhat do fleas look like?

Fleas can vary in size but most of the time, they are 1/12” to ⅙” in length and they are relatively flat from side-to-side. They are dark red or brown in color and have two antennae and six legs¹. Most fleas that are on your pet are not adult fleas so they may be more difficult to spot. They don’t have wings, but their strong legs allow them to jump long distances– sothey can definitely get around quickly. 

What do flea bites look like? 

The difference between a mosquito bite and a flea bite is that a flea bite will have a discolored ring or halo may appear around the bite². Typically flea bites will appear in a straight line or a cluster of many bites. Again, this is what makes them different from mosquito bites. On humans, these bites will probably occur around the feet, calves and ankles. On animals, look at their under arms, around the neck, and the base of their tail.

These bites will cause itchy and irritated skin and a discolored ring around the bite. On dogs and cats, flea bites will look like tiny, red, raised dots on the dog’s skin. Starting out, they are smaller than most  mosquito or other insect bites, but if the dog or cat keeps scratching, then the bite will become more inflamed³.

flea on a dog zoomed inPay close attention to the pets in your home: are they scratching themselves more than normal? If so, take a closer look and comb through their fur with a flea comb. If you see fleas, chances are, you or your home may have fleas too. Look for these bites on your dog or cat around the armpit, neck, and base of tails areas, and then check yourself below the knees. 

Lastly, do not scratch your flea bites. You can relieve the itch with over-the-counter itch cream or home remedies. 

How do I stop fleas from biting?

To truly stop the flea infestation, you must start with the source: your pets. Bathe your dog or cat in flea shampoo and use a flea comb to remove the fleas and flea dirt. It is also recommended that you use flea medicine on your pet, whether it’s collars, topical, or oral. Lastly, clean your home and spritz flea spray all over! Wash your bedding and your pet’s bedding and vacuum all the areas in your home that your pet would sleep on. 

Fleas and ticks are a menace, let’s be real. They can invade your dog, your cat, your yard, your home, and even YOU. How do you get rid of fleas and ticks? Follow this easy step-by-step guide!

flea about to attack cat

Step 1: Take immediate action to prevent flea bites

Flea and tick shampoos and flea combs are the best next steps if your pet has a flea infestation. We recommend the Kind + Kind Flea & Tick Dog & Cat Shampoo because it uses vet-approved and clean ingredients like essential oils and plants. Elanco Advantage Flea & Tick Shampoo is for dogs only and kills fleas and ticks on contact. To use the shampoo, gently massage it into your pet’s coat from head to tail, making sure you also reach their skin. Let the shampoo sit for two minutes, then rinse. 

Once your pet is dry, use a flea comb so you can inspect your pet more thoroughly and ensure all fleas have been killed and removed . Common areas for fleas to hide are usually the warm and protected areas like under their arms, belly, or groin area.

elanco serest collar for large dogs kin + kind flea shampoo for cats and dogs

Step 2: Prevention is key

Topical prevention is the most common form of flea prevention. PetLock, K9 Advantix II, and Advantage II products are some tried and true topicals for flea prevention. They use an ingredient that employs the natural oils on your pet’s skin and coat to spread the active ingredients. This way, the topical cover’s your pet’s entire body. Apply these products to a small area on the back of the pet’s neck once a month. You apply it to the back of the neck so your pet can’t reach the topical and mess with it before it has a chance to spread.

Flea collars are another great option! The Seresto collar is effective for up to 8 months and uses the same ingredient as topicals to spread across the cat or dog’s entire body. So if you are someone that can’t remember to apply the topical monthly, then maybe the collar is the best option for you and your pet!

Step 3: Home and yard maintenance

wondercide home and yard sprayFlea sprays are great if you have an infestation of fleas in your home. Douse your pet’s beds, blankets, couches, pillows, etc. to get rid of any fleas in your home. Wondercide has a great all-natural flea spray that will stay effective for one month and is safe even to use on yourself! Wondercide Flea & Tick Spray is made in the USA from human food-grade ingredients and is safe for children.

To prevent pests, you will need to apply every 2 – 3 days by rubbing your dog’s coat in the opposite direction of growth, spray, and rub in. If your dog enjoys swimming, you will need to reapply after your dog’s coat is dry. They also smell great. Or Advantage Flea and Tick Sprays aren’t as natural, but they will be effective for about 24-48 hours. Be adamant about vacuuming and washing your dog’s bedding for multiple weeks to make all life stages of fleas are being eliminated too. 

Yard sprays are an essential part of flea prevention that is not as commonly talked about. If you do all the above steps, and your pet still has fleas or acquires fleas again quickly, then you may want to treat your yard with a flea and tick yard spray. Wondercide Yard Flea & Tick is an all natural solution that uses essential oils like cedar oil to kill on contact and repel fleas and ticks. The spray will cover up 4,000 square feet using no artificial colors, fragrances or synthetic pesticides. 

Wondercide Pets & Home Flea & Tick Spray - Peppermint

Related blogs: How to Get Rid of Fleas and Ticks: A Step-By-Step Guide, The Prevention Post: Say No to Fleas and Ticks, Stamp Out Fleas, Ticks, and Lice with Seresto, How to Get Rid of Fleas

Product Recommendations: Dog Flea & Tick Prevention, Cat Flea Medications



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How to Keep a Dog Calm During Fireworks

dog hiding under bedHow can you keep a dog calm during fireworks? The 4th of July is a lot of people’s favorite holiday…but not for dogs.  According to a study conducted by Zazie Todd, PhD, when asked about their dog’s response to fireworks, thunder, etc., 49% of owners reported a fearful response from their dog. The most common responses to noises were trembling/shaking (43%), barking (38%) and seeking out people (35%)¹. Furthermore, animal shelters report that 4th and 5th of July are their busiest days due to the amount of dogs that get spooked from the fireworks and run off (Baranauckas, 2018). 

Let’s Do the Numbers

30% of all lost pet incidents each year occur on the evening of  the Fourth of July.

PetAmberAlert.com reports that nationally, animal shelters and animal control officers across the country see a 30-60% increase in lost pets each year between July 4th and 6th.

The ASPCA completed a large survey and found:

  • 15% of pet parents had a lost dog or lost cat in the past five years
  • 85% of those lost pets were recovered: 74% of cat parents found their lost cat and 93% of dog parents found their lost dog
  • 49% of the lost dogs were found by searching the neighborhood
  • 15% of the lost dogs were recovered because they were wearing an ID tag or had a microchip
  • 59% of the lost cats returned home on their own
  • 30% of the lost cats were found by searching the neighborhood
  • 6% of dog parents and 2% of cat parents found their lost pets at a shelter

What Can You Do to Prepare?

Hopefully, we are able to find our lost dog or cat quickly ourselves by searching our neighborhood. Second best, we hope that a good, animal-loving person has found them. But if this person finds them and can’t identify them, then we may still never end up reunited with our lost pet.

Here are a few tips to make sure our lost pet is returned to us quickly:

  • The easiest and fastest way to make sure our pets are identifiable is by wearing an ID tag.
  • Frayed and worn collars are more easily torn if they get caught on a fence or branch. We need to regularly check to makes sure our pets’ collars are intact. Check out Hollywood Feed’s Mississippi Made collars and leads here.
  • We should check to make sure that our pets’ ID tags are attached to their collars well and the clip or metal ring holding the tag to the collar is not worn or bent.
  • Let’s also check to make sure our pets’ ID tags are legible and not scratched. If it’s not legible, it’s worthless!
  • Keep dogs and cats inside after dusk and supervise potty breaks in fenced yards or take dogs out on a leash for a few days before and after the Fourth of July.

Microchips are a Great Back-Up

Besides ID tags, there are other options available to make sure our pets are able to be identified. I like ID tags because they are easily and quickly visible to a do-gooder. This makes it simple for someone to approach our dog or cat (if they’re being friendly), call our phone number, and reunite us.

I believe that pets should also be microchipped. Microchips cannot fall off a collar or become worn, so they are a great back-up if our pet becomes lost. If we microchip, though, we should not forget to also have an ID tag as well as keep our microchip information up to date!

Many people will make an effort to return a lost pet to his home with an easy, breezy phone call from a visible ID tag. It is a rarer type of person who will load a strange dog or cat into their car with no identifiers, take him to a vet’s office to see if there is a microchip, and then deal with the consequences of finding no microchip, or finding a microchip with outdated information. This means a stranger will have to make the choice to leave our pet with a shelter, or keep him at their home while they put up posters and make posts on websites. That’s if anyone stops to help in the first place!

Calming Treats for Dogs to Keep Them Calm During Fireworks

Calming treats are a natural way to make your dog feel relaxed during fireworks. Heavenly Hounds Relaxation Squares and Progility Calming Aids are two natural treats that help dogs feel less anxious. Heavenly Hounds is a fast acting treat and can be expected to work within minutes of giving it to your dog. And your dog will love the peanut butter flavor. 

Progility Calming Aid should be given 30 minutes before fireworks start. It contains L-Theanine which is a natural plant-based amino acid found in green tea leaves that can help promote relaxation and lower stress. Thiamine, also known as vitamin B1, helps strengthen the immune system and aid the body to withstand stressful conditions. L-Tryptophan is a naturally occurring essential amino acid that helps enhance calming effects to reduce anxiety and stabilize mood. Melatonin may help reduce stress for dogs suffering from noise phobias or separation anxiety, especially in unfamiliar surroundings or situations. And it is cold pressed, which is a modern production process that uses cold temperatures to retain the maximum efficacy of all the ingredients otherwise compromised by heat.

Let Your Dog Burrow and Hide

dog under blanketThe best option is to let your dog choose how they want to cope with loud sounds. While the calming treats are a great option, your dog may prefer to find a dark place to burrow and hide. Give them that option by prepping an area ahead of time. A donut bed is a great bed because the walls of the bed offer burrowing and nuzzle options for your pet. Pet blankets are another great addition for this so your pet can hide if that’s what they prefer to cope with the sound. 

Desensitization and Counterconditioning

Another way to keep a dog calm during fireworks is desensitization and counterconditioning. According to Zazie Todd, PhD, “The standard recommended treatment for fireworks fears is desensitization and counterconditioning (DSCC) using recordings of fireworks noises”². To practice this technique with your pup, play the audio of fireworks at a sound they are comfortable with. Then gradually, increase the volume. While this is happening, offer treats to the dog after the loud bang of a firework– this is the counterconditioning part. Training treats are a good option since they are smaller, so you can use them as long as you are doing this technique. Depending on your dog, this will vary in how long this takes. 

Last night I heard someone shooting off fireworks in my neighborhood! I usually expect to hear them on the 4th of July and New Year’s Eve, but this was a bit early. After hearing the fireworks and then dogs barking on my street, I realized that now would be a good time to remind everyone to take a few small steps to keep your dog safe around fireworks this year.


Supervise dogs when they’re outside! Dogs who are otherwise fine in your backyard by themselves may become scared and try to dig under the fence to get away from the loud noise. Dogs can jump or climb 8-foot fences when they are very scared. DO NOT leave your dog in the backyard while you are out for the evening if fireworks are likely to go off.


If your dogs are scared of fireworks even when they are inside with you, try turning on the TV or radio to drown out some of the noise outside. You can also give your dog a Kong stuffed with peanut butter or plain yogurt and then frozen. Treats like these will keep your pup occupied for a long time and help distract him from the scary noise.


Another way to calm a dog during fireworks is to make sure that your dog has a comfortable place where he feels safe to ride out the evening. Does your dog love his crate? Maybe, he prefer a Mississippi Made dog bed in the corner. Or, bring out his favorite toy that he likes to cuddle with. Set up a space to make him feel as comfortable as possible.


There is a product called Thundershirt that may be helpful for some dogs when they are anxious or scared. The shirt wraps around your dog snuggly and comfortably, designed to make your dog feel safe. It is easy to use and there is no training involved! You can find a ThunderShirt in all different sizes at your local Hollywood Feed location.

Clean Up

Check your yard for any stray fireworks that may have fallen into it before letting your dogs outside unsupervised. Some dogs may try to eat used fireworks.

Leave Dogs at Home

Small dog hiding under the bed scared.

If you are not completely sure that your dog is comfortable and calm around fireworks, then PLEASE do not take him to a fireworks display with you! He may run away or become so fearful that he bites or injures you or someone else.

What other tips do you have for keeping your dog safe through New Year’s Eve fireworks?

Have you ever had a lost dog or cat? Was he return home to you? Let us know in the comment section below.

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Related Content: Dogs and Fireworks Don’t Mix: How to Keep Your Dog Safe and Calm This New Year’s, Fear, Anxiety, Stress, and Phobias in Dogs, 10 Signs of Stress in Your Dog (more…)

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