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Can Dogs Get Cat Fleas?


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They bounce, they bite and they are a pain to get rid of! Cat fleas can infest your family in the blink of an eye. Your kid can pick them up playing outside in the grass. You can become a flea host just from being near a cat or wild animal that has them. Once they are around, they can be hard to get rid of. Many cartoons make a joke of fleas jumping from cats to dogs, but can dogs get fleas from cats in real life?

Can Dogs Get Cat Fleas?


The cartoons don't lie, in this case. Dogs indeed can get cat fleas! The species known as the cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis, is the most common variety in the U.S. Despite their name, cat fleas can also set up shop on your pup, not being too picky about what kind of pet they are biting. While our puppy pals have their own namesake pest, the dog flea, Ctenocephalides canis is actually less common. While you'll likely notice the symptoms of a flea infestation on your dog, like excessive itching and red bite marks, you can also actually see the little black bloodsuckers themselves. They appear as tiny jumping black dots, and leave behind small lines of excrement on the animal.

Does My Dog Have Cat Fleas?

Does your dog seem itchier than usual? Have you recently started them at a new kennel or doggy day care? Does your dog have access to animals outside? All of these scenarios indicate a flea infestation as a possibility.

A dog with fleas won't be able to hide his irritation. There will be lots of extra licking, scratching and biting at the skin in attempts to soothe the itch. If the nasty pests have been around for a while, you may notice scabs or bite marks on your dog's skin, or even patches where hair won't grow from all of the scratching!

In general, dogs get fleas from other animals with fleas. Even a tiny little house mouse can be the culprit behind a full blown family flea problem. Fleas can also be waiting in grassy areas, especially during the hot and humid months of the year.

You can actually confirm if your dog has fleas by giving him a bath. Once the dog is fully wet, you'll likely notice little, wee fleas abandoning ship - they hate water! A vet can diagnose fleas after a fairly simple examination using a comb.

For a more detailed look at the signs, causes and diagnosis of fleas, read the article here: Fleas in Dogs.

How Do I Treat My Dog's Cat Fleas?

Getting rid of fleas can turn into quite the battle! These bouncy bugs can lay eggs in any kind of fabric, from a dog bed to your living room carpet. Being thorough is the only way to keep these mini-beasts away!

You can combat fleas on your dog from both the inside and the outside. Applying certain medicines, or even adding a bit of apple cider vinegar to your dog's water can help kill fleas after they have bitten. By using medicated shampoos and a flea comb, the little beggars can be manually pick off of your furry friend’s coat.

Most medications that your vet can prescribe for fleas will kill off any bugs hanging around your dog's fur. But the only way to win the war and not just the battle is to thoroughly clean every fabric surface that your dog touches. To kill fleas on fabric, very hot water and detergent must be used.

Want to read stories from owners like you, or ask your flea-related questions to an actual professional? Head over to Fleas in Dogs for all of the flea info you can handle!

How Are Cat Fleas Similar in Dogs and Humans?

Both people and their pets can become a flea’s dinner. The bugs are not too picky, but they actually prefer the blood of dogs over two-legged hosts. All similarities between infestations on humans and hounds include:

  • Itchy skin

  • Red bites or scabs

  • Restlessness

  • Swelling or bleeding at the bite site

  • Dermatitis from an allergic reaction to flea saliva

How Are Cat Fleas Different in Dogs and Humans?

The flea that affects both humans and dogs is actually the cat flea. Dogs, however, can host many different types of flea including wild animal and ground squirrel fleas. Other differences to note are:

  • Dogs will bite at the affected area, which humans generally don't do

  • Because dogs are furry, they also can experience hair loss where the fleas have been feasting

  • In humans, fleas usually hang out on the bottom of the legs, whereas on dogs they congregate pretty much anywhere.

Case Study

One long haired pooch was showing signs that he was irritated. His owner thought maybe he needed a haircut to deal with the summer weather, but after a trip to the groomers, it was clear that his problem was fleas, not fur! He had recently spent a bit of time at a kennel, and most likely had picked up the tiny, unwanted friends from another canine. After a trip to the vet's, some special shampoo and some topical medication, the pup is happy and itch-free once again!

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