Our fully inclusive guide on fleas, what they are, and how their bites can be harmful to humans and dogs alike.
Fleas. We’re susceptible to having them in our home the minute we choose to keep dogs – or cats for that matter. Although they may not be big, they are an enormous annoyance, and once you’ve got them, they’re pretty hard to get rid of.
The truth of the matter is, however, that a lot of us don’t know an awful lot about fleas. Sure, we know they exist – and as responsible pet owners we take steps to prevent them by treating our furry friends regularly – but we don’t really know what they do, and how they do it.
If this sounds like you, then read on, as today we’re providing you with a fully inclusive guide on fleas, what they are, and how their bites can actually be harmful to humans and dogs alike.
What are Fleas?
First things first, it’s important to fully understand what fleas are.
Very simply, fleas are tiny little bugs – who cause great big problems. They don’t actually grow any larger than the tip of a ballpoint pen, and in colour they range from light brown to a very dark brown, almost black, in colour.
Fleas don’t have wings, and therefore cannot fly. Instead, they get from place to place – and host to host – by jumping.
In appearance, their bodies are thin, and they’re flat, with their shells also being hard. This means that in order to kill them, they often have to be squeezed – either between two fingernails or two hard surfaces. The issue with only using this method to get rid of them, is where there is one flea, there are likely to be hundreds more. Killing one flea does not uproot the problem in its’ totality.
This is because fleas reproduce – and they do so rapidly. This is even more so the case if you have furry friends in your home.
However, even if you are not a pet owner, fleas can actually reproduce and live in your back yard, and if you start finding random bites and not knowing where exactly they’ve come from, this could be your answer.
In order to thoroughly get rid of a flea infestation, it’s likely you’re going to have to call in a professional to use an insecticide in your home.
What are the Symptoms of being Bitten by a Flea?
Next up, we’re going to be taking a look at the symptoms of being bitten by a flea. After all, how can you even tell which insect is bugging you if you don’t know the symptoms of their bite?
There are actually several symptoms which are common of the typical flea bite. Usually they are very itchy, and sometimes the skin surrounding the bite will become sore. In some cases, it is possible that hives or a rash could develop around the site of a flea bite.
Unfortunately, they are very itchy, which means you will be very tempted to scratch them. However, if you do this you could actually damage the skin around the bite, and make it more susceptible to bacterial infection. If you can, avoid scratching flea bites at all times.
If you’re looking for signs of infection, then there are usually:
- A rash.
- White topped blisters.
Around the bite.
What Does a Flea Bite on a Human Look Like?
Flea bites can be slightly different on humans and dogs.
First up, we’re going to be looking a what flea bites on a human look like.
They’re pretty easy to spot, as they are distinctive. There are usually small red bumps which appear in a cluster of three or four – and sometimes in a straight line. Unlike mosquito bites, these bumps will remain small in size.
In some cases, you may actually notice a red ring around the centre of the bite. You are most likely to find flea bites around the legs and ankles, as well as the armpits, waist, groin, breasts, and even in the folds of your elbows and knees.
What Does a Flea Bite on a Dog Look Like?
Next up, we’re looking into what flea bites look like on dogs.
To be fair, they do look fairly similar on dog skin as they do on human skin. Again, the tiny red bumps usually form clusters, and there is even sometimes a red ring to be seen around them.
However, they’re a lot harder to spot because of the thick fur dogs have that cover the skin in its’ entirety. One of the key things to watch out for in your dogs if you fear they have been bitten by a flea, is persistent scratching – and a lot more so than normal. In some cases when it’s been going on a little while, there may be patches of missing fur and red skin.
If you are concerned your dog may be infested with fleas, then you should invest in a flea comb, and go through your dog’s coat thoroughly. You are most likely to find fleas on your dog in the following areas:
- Lower back.
- Base of the tail.
If you can’t spy any actual fleas, you may be able to spot little bits of dirt in your dog’s coat. This can actually be their faeces, and they look like black spots of pepper on your dog’s skin or in their fur.
Can Flea Bites be Harmful to Humans and Dogs?
So now we’re getting right down to the nitty gritty. Can flea bites actually be harmful to humans and dogs?
The good news for humans, is that the risk of contracting diseases from fleas is actually very small. However, the bacteria from their bite can actually get into your skin, and this can cause an infection – especially if you continue to scratch the bite. Typically, if a flea bite is infected, it will turn very red, be warm in temperature, and may even be filled with pus.
In some cases, where people are particularly sensitive to flea bites, or have an allergy to them, the reaction can be more extreme. These symptoms can range from external skin welts all the way to finding breathing more difficult. If you start to experience any of these symptoms, you should seek medical advice.
In dogs, the complications of flea bites can be worse, particularly if the dog in question has an allergic reaction. In some cases, the blood loss caused by fleas can actually lead to anaemia in your dog, so it’s very important to get them checked by the vet if you suspect they have fleas.
How Should Flea Bites on Humans be Treated?
Of course, if you find fleas on your dog, you should find a treatment product and take them to the vets to be checked immediately.
But what if, as a human, you find you have been bitten by a flea? How is best to treat this?
Well the good news here, is that flea bites will actually go away in time without any treatment. If you want to stop the fleas biting you, however, you will have to attempt to get rid of the fleas themselves.
If you have symptoms of itching etc from flea bites, then you’ll be able to buy itching creams and anti – histamines over the counter to relieve you of this, stop you scratching, and prevent infection.
As we have mentioned several times, do NOT scratch the area. If you do start to notice any signs of infection – like the ones we listed above earlier on – then you should get in touch with your doctor as you may need a course of antibiotics.
How Can I Ensure that I Get Rid of the Fleas – and For Good?
Last of all, but by no means least, if you want rid of fleas from your home for good, you should do the following things.
You have to treat both your pets, and your home for fleas if they have been in the house.
If your dog was the source of the fleas, you should be sure to use an anti – flea shampoo to get rid of any of the fleas already on your dog. To prevent them getting them again, you should invest in either a treatment, an anti – flea collar, and consult your vet.
For your home, you should be certain to hoover thoroughly, and dump the contents of your vacuum in an outside bin.
Wash all of your, and your pet’s bedding in hot water, then dry it on the highest heat setting the material will allow. This will help to kill off the fleas.
Finally, you will also have to use insecticides in the home in order to thoroughly get rid of the fleas altogether, and you may have to get a professional in to apply this, as the chemicals in them can be harmful to pets and humans.
Thanks for reading!