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 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, their 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.
What 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.
Pay 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. Learn more about how to get rid of fleas in our blog, “How to Get Rid of Fleas and Ticks: A Step-By-Step Guide.”
Related articles: 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
¹ “Fleas.” Pest Guide, National Pest Management Association, https://www.pestworld.org/pest-guide/fleas/flea/.
² “Flea Bites.” Health Library, Cleveland Clinic, 31 August 2021, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21718-flea-bites#:~:text=What%20do%20flea%20bites%20look,a%20cluster%20of%20many%20bites.
³ Burke, Anna.”What Do Flea Bites Look Like on Dogs?” Flea & Tick, American Kennel Club, 25 March 2022, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/flea-bites-on-dogs/#:~:text=So%20what%20do%20flea%20bites,a%20much%20larger%20red%20area.