Fleas in Dogs

Fleas in Dogs

What they are: For most dogs and owners, these small insects are a minor nuisance and easily prevented; however, some dogs have sensitivity to flea bites and can develop severe skin lesions and secondary infections.  Young or debilitated animals that have an overwhelming number of flea bites can develop anemia.


  • Excessive scratching
  • Excessive licking
  • Areas of hair loss
  • Presence of flea dirt
  • Weakness and pale mucous membranes in severe cases

Live fleas may or may not be seen.  Animals with a high sensitivity to flea bites often remove the insects via scratching and licking before they can be observed by the veterinarian or owner.  Dogs often accidentally ingest fleas, which can cause infection with tapeworms.

Treatment: Almost all dogs should be given a flea preventative every month.  There are oral and topical (on the skin) preventatives available.  Some dogs with increased susceptibility or higher than average exposure to fleas may require preventative care more often.  A thorough cleaning of the pet’s home environment (home, car, yard) is also recommended.

Many dog health insurance plans offer wellness and routine care coverage to help pay for flea and other parasite prevention.

Return to the Dog Health Problems glossary.

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