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Fleas on dogs and cats

Fleas are small blood-sucking parasites that can cause issues in our dogs and cats. They cause itching and can trigger an allergic reaction in sensitive animals. Live stages of the flea are not only on your pet, but also in the environment where your pet walks and sleeps. So it is important to pay attention to this as well.

dog in grass

Fleas can cause a lot of discomfort. The Vetsend Flea and Tick Guide has useful tips and helps keep track of when you need to give your pet tick and flea treatment.


A common problem in pets is the presence of fleas. These are small, brown, laterally flattened creatures that often cause severe itching and itching in your pet. It’s not always easy to diagnose a flea infection. Especially in thick or long-haired animals, these small insects are hard to find.

There are two types of fleas, the dog flea and the cat flea. Most of these fleas that are present are cat fleas, also in dogs. In order to be able to reproduce, the flea needs blood. A day later, the flea lays a few dozen (20-45) eggs. These eggs end up in the environment. Within 2-10 days the eggs develop into larvae. These larvae shy away from light and crawl away in or under carpets, carpets, cracks and other small openings. The larva pupates and a few weeks to a year later an adult flea emerges as a result of the temperature and vibrations in the environment. This is the reason why a pest often occurs after a period of absence (e.g. after a holiday). These fleas look for a host to eat a blood meal, after which the entire cycle starts again. Under ideal conditions, the entire cycle takes about 2-3 weeks.

Flea cycle

Did you know that?

Research has shown that 95% of the flea population is located in the vicinity and only 5% of the fleas are present on the animal.

1-10% of the flea population consists of adult fleas and more than 90% of eggs, larvae and pupae. The adult fleas on your pet are therefore only ‘the tip of the iceberg’.

How to recognise fleas

Fleas are elusive and fast. They crawl deep into the fur, which makes them difficult to find in some animals. To check if your pet has fleas, it is best to use a flea comb. Sometimes you will use this comb to remove fleas and other small parasites from your pet’s coat. If these are not present, look for black granules in the coat. These black granules are the faeces of fleas. On a wet tissue, they turn rusty brown (digested blood in the faeces of the flea).



Fleas cause a lot of itching in most cases, but this is certainly not always obvious. Itching can simply manifest itself in scratching, but some animals can also suddenly jump out of their sleep or start biting at the level of their hindquarters. In addition, small red spots can be seen on the skin, bald spots can occur or crusts (often low back and tail base). Very young animals can even become anaemic in case of a serious flea infection because the fleas suck blood on a large scale. Animals with a flea allergy are allergic to the saliva of fleas and will suffer from this tremendously, even sometimes after a bite. In some cases, the itching can be so bad that they create a ‘hot spot’ by constantly licking and biting, often just above the base of the tail. In cats, flea allergy can be recognised by dozens of scabs that can be felt all over the back. Fleas can also carry tapeworm eggs. By licking the coat, your pet can also infect itself with tapeworms.

Therapy and prevention

If you discover that your dog or cat has fleas, it is necessary to treat your animal the correct way. There are various remedies available to do this. Below you can read more about the different flea treatments. It is important to treat all dogs and cats in a household at the same time, especially in case of an infection.

Flea treatments

Flea remedies are available in the form of spot on pipettes, flea collars, tablets, sprays and flea shampoos. Contrary to what is often claimed, there is currently no concrete evidence for resistance to flea repellents.

Spot on (pipette)

Spot on pipettes against fleas are well known. These products have to be applied onto the skin, preferably between the shoulder blades or in the neck so that the animal itself cannot lick the substance. The efficacy of most pipettes takes 4 weeks. Many are also effective against ticks at the same time. Please note: products for dogs should not be administered to cats. Permethrin, the active ingredient used for dogs in some pipettes, is toxic to cats!

Flea collars

Scalibor dog collar is an effective and long-lasting flea collar. This flea collar is effective for up to 5 to 6 months and also offers protection against ticks, sandflies and mosquitoes. The Scalibor Collar is available for small, medium and large sized dogs.

Flea Spray

The use of a spray, such as the Frontline spray is particularly suitable for use on puppies and kittens where no pipette or other medication can yet be administered due to age and/or weight. Frontline Spray can be safely administered to kittens and puppies from 2 days of age and to pregnant and lactating queens and bitches.

Do you have any questions about fleas on your pet and the best way to prevent or treat them? Then download our Step-by-step guide for Fleas where all the steps are clearly listed. Our vet is also happy to help you. Send an email to or call our customer service.