How do I know if my pet has fleas?

Fleas are pesky little blighters that live on your pet, biting them and sucking their blood. They move quickly and are pretty tiny so can be hard to spot, but there are some tell-tail signs to look out for…

  • More itching, scratching or chewing than normal
  • Flea Bites – Tiny, red bumps
  • Irritated and dry skin from all that scratching
  • Hair loss
  • Flea dirt – We have more on this below

Some dogs and cats are even allergic to fleas, specifically their saliva. This is known as flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) – these animals will be super itchy and in a lot of discomfort, even with just a couple of fleas. If this sounds like your fur baby, you’ll need to take them to see their vet in case they need some special treatment for their inflamed skin. The best way to manage FAD is by treating your pet regularly with a flea product which has preventative action, such as Imidaflea.

How do I know if my pet has fleas?

So, if you think your pet might have fleas or just want to do a quick check for peace of mind, looking for flea dirt (yes, flea poo!) is often the best way.

You’ll need a flea comb and some kitchen roll, toilet roll or cotton wool.

  1. Run the comb through your pet’s fur, making contact with the skin
  2. After each stroke, tap the comb onto the kitchen roll
  3. Look for little black bits, and if present dampen with a bit of water
  4.  If they stain the kitchen roll red/brown your pet has fleas (sorry!)
Now what…?!

If your pet has fleas, don’t panic, it happens – in fact 15% of dogs and nearly 30% of cats do have them1…but it’s time to take action!  

  • Treat your pet with one of our trusted and effective flea products – we even have a handy guide of how to apply them here
  • Treat all your pets… if one has fleas the others will have them too!
  • Wash all your pet’s bedding on a hot wash (60oC), plus anything else they regularly sleep on (we know you let them in your bed for a cuddle!) – don’t forget beds kept in the car
  • Thoroughly vacuum carpets where your pet has been (again don’t forget the car!)
  • Depending on the severity of infestation you may need a dedicated house treatment
  • Treat your pets regularly – every four weeks is usually recommended, all year round

Phew, and now you should be able to keep those pesky fleas at bay. Remember – by regularly using a product that prevents fleas, such as Imidaflea, you can protect your pet and home!


But why do I need to clean my house?

Well, this comes down to the flea lifecycle and the fact that only 5% of a flea infestation lives on your pet as adults…. the other 95% is hiding away, lurking in your soft furnishings and carpets (we know, it’s like something out of a horror movie).


Where can my pet get fleas?

Well, the answer is pretty much anywhere – fleas aren’t too fussy! Even indoor pets are at risk as fleas have sneaky ways of finding their way into your home.

  • When out and about – newly emerged adult fleas may be hiding out in vegetation, sandy areas, sheds or debris on the ground, just waiting to find their first meal on legs. Anywhere that a flea infested animal (pet or wild) has been is a risky spot for picking up fleas!
  • They may hitch a ride on you or your clothes into your home (ewww).
  • You may move into a home with unwanted lodgers…fleas can lie dormant for up to 5 months!3
  • Wildlife with flea infestations visiting your home and garden.

Fleas very rarely hop from animal to animal,7 once they’ve found their mobile home, they tend to stay!

Why do I need to treat for fleas all year round?

Traditionally fleas have been seen as a summer problem, as they reproduce and multiply much quicker in warmer temperatures…in fact flea eggs can’t survive below 13oC, so if outdoors, will die or fail to develop in the winter.3

There is a big BUT here… Our lovely, warm, centrally heated houses have made it possible for fleas to reproduce all year round in the comfort of our homes! Add to this the fact that those pesky pupae can lie dormant for 5 months and you have a recipe for an all year round disaster (imagine the scenario… your pet picks up fleas when out and about in the summer, the unwanted creepy crawlies reproduce, with the eggs and immature stages hiding around your home, lying dormant and waiting – then months later, in the depths of winter – boom – you have fleas again)!

By keeping up flea treatments every 4 weeks, all year round, you can keep your pet and home protected.


How to apply a spot-on flea treatment?

Don’t worry applying one of our spot-on flea treatments is as easy as 1,2,3!

Spot-on application


We even have a few tips…

Spot-on tips and tricks:

  • We all knows pets love to groom themselves so apply the spot-on somewhere that your fur baby can’t lick it – like on the back of their neck or between their shoulder blades
  • An obvious one… but wash your hands afterwards
  • Let the product completely dry before you (or anyone else) makes a fuss of your pet, applying in the evening before you go to bed can help with this (unless you share a bed with your fur baby, in which case, applying in the daytime might be best)
  • If your hound is a water baby don’t let them swim for two days after application (don’t bath them either!)
  • And don’t worry if your fur baby’s coat looks a bit greasy and clumped after you’ve applied it, this is totally normal and shows the product is in the right place to do its thing! It will soon return to normal.

1. Abdullah S, Helps C et al. Pathogens in fleas collected from cats and dogs: distribution and prevalence in the UK. Parasites Vectors (2019) 12: 71.

2. Dryden, M. W. Host association, on-host longevity and egg production of Ctenocephalides felis felis. Veterinary Parasitology34, 117–122 (1989).

3. Silverman, J., Rust, M. K. & Reierson, D. A. Influence of Temperature and Humidity on Survival and Development of the Cat Flea, Ctenocephalides Felis (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae). Journal of Medical Entomology 18, 78–83 (1981).

4. Byron, D. W. Aspects of the Biology, Behavior, Bionomics, and Control of Immature Stages of the Cat Flea Ctenocephalides Felis Felis (Bouché) (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae) in the Domiciliary Environment. (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1987).

5. Dryden, M. W. Biology of Fleas of Dogs and Cats. The Compendium on Continuing Education for the Practicing Veterinarian 15, 569–578 (1993).

6. Krämer, F. & Mencke, N. Flea Biology and Control: The Biology of the Cat Flea, Control and Prevention with Imidacloprid in Small Animals. (Springer, 2001).