Spotting and Treating Fleas on Dogs in Minnesota

Beagle dog scratching body on green grass outdoor in the park on sunny day.While most pet owners are aware that their pets can get fleas, they probably don’t know how to check for fleas or how to treat them effectively. Many people think that their pets that live inside are not ever going to get fleas, but this is not correct.

Fleas can be present even in your backyard, and dogs that are outside during the day or that go to the dog park might pick up fleas even during this limited exposure to the outdoors. If you get a new pet and it has fleas, your existing pets might also get them too.

Since fleas are very hard to eradicate from your home and tough to remove from carpeting and other surfaces that are perfect for them to hide in, spotting and treating fleas is very important. You don’t want to end up with fleas from your dog, and long-term flea infestations in dogs can lead to all kinds of health issues as well.

If you are ready to learn more about spotting and treating fleas on dogs, you need to keep reading!

What Are Dog Fleas?

Dog fleas are parasites that prefer warm living hosts with lots of hair to nest in. Fleas can sometimes lay eggs and then go partially dormant before being awakened by increasing temperatures during the warmer parts of the year.

Dog fleas can actually transmit diseases, and they can cause a lot of skin issues for your dog. Fleas can be very itchy, and they also suck the blood of their hosts, which can lead to anemia and other health concerns for your pets. Late summer is the peak time of year for flea infestations, but if your dog lives indoors, the warmth in your home will make these pests a year-round problem.

How to Spot Dog Fleas

Even if you don’t see fleas hopping around on your dog’s coat, that does not mean that they are not present. Dog fleas might be most noticeable in your dog’s behavior, such as scratching and shaking their ears. You might also notice bald patches in your dog’s coat from excessive grooming. Fleas are very small, so spotting them will require that you ask your dog to lay down in most cases. You can then comb through their coat, looking at the skin.

When fleas are present, they will look like tiny, moving black dots on your dog’s skin. You might also see scabs and sores on your dog’s skin when you are looking for pests. Flea dirt is also common, which looks just like muddy, brown deposits on your dog’s skin when you pull back the hair.

Fleas themselves are dark brown, and they are about 1-2 mm in size. They might be visible more readily on light-colored coats, but you can see them in dark haircoats as well if you are looking for them. You can invest in a dog comb if you really want to track them down in person because this will help you to see them better.

Take a paper towel that is slightly damp to the areas that might have fleas, and you will probably see spots of blood, flea dirt, and maybe even pick up an actual flea. This is usually the best method for verifying that there are actually fleas in your dog’s coat.

How to Treat Dog Fleas

Thankfully, treating fleas is actually really easy. You will need to treat your dog or dogs before you both with fumigating your home. Make sure that you also plan to bathe your dog before and after treatment to help remove flea dirt, eggs, and fleas themselves.

Most vets will suggest that you use a variety of flea treatments that they can prescribe to you. Most of these are delivered by squeezing out a clear gel onto your dog’s skin on their neck. Within a week, all the fleas should be dead. There are also oral versions of this medication that can be given in chews or pill form.

Dog scratching flea on backSome people will also elect to use flea powder and flea shampoos to back up their efforts at exterminating these invaders. Once your dog has been treated for fleas, you will need to flea bomb your home and wash your bedding and clothes to make sure that fleas do not move in again.

You will want to stay on top of the prevention of flea infestations by applying the same flea treatment you used to kill these pests on a regular schedule. This is critical for animals that live outside or spend a lot of time outside. Just because you killed the first batch of fleas that your dog contracted does not mean that they cannot get them again.

Flea collars and flea treatment prescribed by the vet can make all the difference in preventing ongoing issues with fleas in your home and on your pets. You will want to make sure that you stay on top of this issue so that you can break the cycle of flea infestation.


While it might seem like it would be hard to spot fleas, once you know what you are looking for, it is quite simple to spot them and get rid of them. You will need to treat your home for fleas as well as your pets, and you will also want to stay current on flea prevention if you want the best results for your efforts. Removing fleas requires a multi-pronged attack, and you will need to be careful to pay attention to your prevention efforts to prevent relapses.

Some parts of the US are more prone to fleas than others, and your vet can provide more information about prevention tactics in these areas. For the most part, if your pet lives indoors and you keep their flea prevention current, you should not have further problems once you have killed the fleas they currently have. Fleas are very hard on dog health, and they are a pest that should be taken seriously despite their small size.

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About Park Grove Animal Hospital

When you visit Park Grove Pet Hospital, you’ll come to find that it’s about more than your pets—it’s about you, too. We have been serving the community of Cottage Grove, Woodbury, Hastings, and the surrounding area since 1972 and the relationships we form with the pets and people here are what we value above all else.