If you find flea dirt but no fleas on your dog’s body, don’t worry! It is quite common for pets to have flea dirt on their body at some point in their lives. Yes, they can be very annoying, but there are various ways to treat flea dirt.
But for that, let’s have a better understanding of what flea dirt is and then we’ll jump into how you can keep your little friends safe from it.
What is flea dirt?
Flea dirt is a combination of flea feces and blood that accumulates over your pet’s body when the fleas nibble on its skin. Their appearance resembles black pepper and even specs of burnt logs, and are usually the size of half a grain of rice and are round in shape.
If you use a fine comb and run it through your pet’s fur, you might find spots of flea dirt. For confirmation, take the dark speck and moisten it using a damp paper towel, if it turns slightly red, then it is indeed flea dirt.
Flea dirt, in general terms, is not that dangerous, but it is an indication that your dog may have had fleas (or currently does). These pests are fast; there is a great chance they’ve hidden well before you can find them nibbling on your pet’s skin. Your dog may feel itchy and you may notice redness and swelling on its skin, which means it’s time to look for ways of treating them.
The good part is that flea dirt is avoidable; your pet doesn’t need to be affected for you to take precautions for flea dirt beforehand.
How to look for flea dirt on your pet
One of the most common ways of finding flea dirt on your pet is running a fine comb or brush against your pet’s fur, parting in some ways so you can see the flea waste better. You can use your fingers to do this as well. Dogs with longer fur are more prone to having flea dirt so you may have to take extra precautions to make sure your dog is flea dirt-free.
You should look for small black specks (as described above) around the stomach and tail area of your dog. This is where the flea dirt is usually found. You can also check their beds or kennels where there might be a clearer sign of flea dirt.
Sometimes flea dirt can be confused with actual dirt that may be on your pet’s fur when they return from playing outside. In this case, use the dampened paper towel to confirm if it is indeed flea dirt.
If your pet usually stays outdoors then make sure to check its limbs and paws for flea dirt. Even if you don’t find any dirt on their bed, it is a good idea to take a closer look through their fur for signs of flea dirt.
Is it possible to have no fleas but still have flea dirt?
Yes, it is possible and actually common under certain circumstances that you may find flea dirt on your pet but cannot find the fleas. Think from these possibilities and you will be able to pin point what actually might be the reason that you found flea dirt but no fleas on your dog.
Possibility 1: Your Dog Shampoo May Already Be Anti-Flea
One way you can find flea dirt is because you don’t bath your dog often. Your dog may have caught flea from an outdoor trip. The gap between the baths may have allowed the fleas to grow rapidly and hence would have produced the flea dirt. Unknowingly about the presence of the flea you would have given your dog the regular bath.
The dog shampoo may already be anti-flea hence it would have killed the flea but the flea dirt would take some more baths before it can be wiped out totally from your dog’s fur. So In this case, you may be left with only flea dirt and be wondering that there are no fleas but loads of flea dirt. But you can also brush it out without worrying about fleas. Make sure you do it outdoor to prevent the eggs for dwelling at home that may have survived the shampoo.
Possibility 2: Small Flea Species
Fleas are hard to spot specially some dog flea species are too small to find in the thick fur of your dog. They panic as soon as they feel intimidated and taking benefit of their small size. They are clever and rush into safe spots on your dog’s fur. But the dirt can’t move hence you see the dirt but not the fleas.
But there is evidence of flea dirt and it means that you should use anti flea shampoo to get rid of the pest. Also more importantly, some disease-carrying flea species are also quite small, that it can be very difficult to see the fleas through the natural eye, so if you suspect that your pet has micro fleas then it is better to take it to the vet for examination.
Possibility 3: It May just be Mud You Are Confusing as Flea Dirt
Other than above, if your pet has played in the mud, it may look similar to flea dirt, but this can be a misunderstanding so make sure to double-check. This is one of the most common reason of flea dirt but no fleas on your pet.
Can flea dirt be dangerous?
The presence of flea dirt simply tells us that your pet’s body has fleas and that you need to do something about it. The quantity of flea dirt matters, if you find a lot of flea dirt then chances are that your dog or cat has fleas and needs to be treated immediately. The fleas could have also laid eggs on your pet as well as around the house. When this happens your pet might have itchy skin (which is quite normal) and excessive itching can cause scars on their skin as well.
Moreover, many types of fleas carry diseases that can cause skin problems or allergies to your pet. Some cases of anemia have also emerged because the larvas use the pet’s blood as food to thrive. Although this is quite a rare scenario, if there are too many flea bites and flea dirt on your pet, make sure you consult a vet.
However, flea dirt is usually harmless to your pet but that doesn’t mean it should be taken lightly.
While only pets are victims of flea dirt, it can cause problems for humans as well. If your pet has flea dirt then there is a chance that infection can spread around the house if not taken care of. However, to cause notable problems within the human body, a person should have consumed a flea or been bitten by it to stimulate the transfer of pathogens.
Other than this, washing your hands every time you handle a pet is a great habit and can prevent you from unwanted diseases.
Getting rid of flea dirt
Anti-flea dirt products
It is important to treat your dog for possible flea dirt to ensure it doesn’t make a comeback.
Many pet owners believe that a thorough shower using anti-flea dirt shampoo on the pet’s body will do the trick. Others believe that using a flea spray may help terminate fleas (if any) and using products like Advantix help clear out and prevent the flea dirt easily.
However, if your pet happens to get infected, you should make a vet’s opinion. He/she may prescribe your pet medication to get rid of any infections so your dog is healthy again. Many vets prescribe oral medications that can kill the blood-sucking fleas within 24 hours and make your pet’s skin healthy again. You can then bathe your dog and brush through to remove the rest of the flea dirt.
Please note that while you are treating your pet, it is important to keep your surroundings free from fleas so it doesn’t get infected again. This can be done by keeping the pet brushes, carpets, and kennels clean. Many pet owners use flea powder and it seems to do the job well.
Some further ways to prevent flea dirt infestation are to groom your pet regularly and to wash their bedding every once in a while. In addition, even if you find just 2 or 3 spots of flea dirt but no fleas, don’t hesitate to treat your pet immediately before it turns into a nightmare for you and your little friends.
If you have any other flea dirt-infested animals in the house, try to keep them away from the clean pets until it is completely treated.
In conclusion, flea dirt itself is not that harmful, but it may give rise to flea problems in your pet which can get aggravating. However, if your pet still hasn’t been infested with fleas, then make sure to take precautionary measures to avoid infestation and flea dirt in the future.
Keep yourself and your pet safe!