How to Spot Flea Eggs on Dogs
Fleas—they’re the worst. They may be tiny, but they’re no small matter for your furry friend. Flea bite symptoms range from minor annoyance to life-threatening. While these critters can be hard to detect before they hatch, there are some tips for spotting flea eggs on dogs. Learn how you can prevent an infestation during flea season and beyond.
How Dogs Catch Fleas
Pets can pick up fleas from their environment or from other pets. As animals with fleas walk through your home or yard, they often leave behind fleas and flea eggs. As your dog plays, sleeps and rolls around outside, she becomes an easy target for adult fleas.
Even indoor pets are at risk if you have an outdoor infestation. You can bring fleas and flea eggs into your home if they find their way onto your clothing or shoes.
How to Identify Flea Eggs on Dogs
Fleas like it warm, which is why summer months are considered to be prime flea season. It’s important to be especially vigilant at flea detection during this time. However, dogs who live in warmer climates are at risk all year long.
Female fleas can lay between four and eight eggs after each meal. Fleas will even increase their egg production before they die. These tiny eggs can look like dandruff or salt. They’re small and white or clear. A flea comb, like Safari’s Double Row Flea Comb for Dogs, can help you get between pet hairs to better identify the tiny white eggs. If you’re having difficulty spotting flea eggs on your dog, check their sleeping areas. A dark-colored pet bed, Frisco’s Tufted Lounger, which comes in dark gray, can help you spot these tiny white eggs. When hunting for flea eggs on dogs or their sleeping area, use a magnifying glass to give you a better view.
If your dog already has adult fleas, scratching can increase flea egg distribution. For that reason, you’re likely to find flea eggs on the ground around your home. If left untouched, eggs can hatch within 12 days. So it is very important to also check for adult fleas, and to treat your dog as well as your home.
“Looking for fleas on the pet’s stomach and around their tail are two good and easy places to check your pet for live fleas—especially if you see scratching,” says Dr. Kristen Vance, DVM at Homeward Bound Mobile Vet.
Flea dirt is the feces left behind by fleas. You can identify flea dirt on your dog by looking in between the fur for spots that look like brown dirt.
“If you see this dirt and hit it with a drop of water, you will see a blood color,” Dr. Vance says.
Flea Larvae and Pupae
Flea larvae are from the early stages of the flea life cycle and are between 3-5.2 millimeters long with a white or transparent appearance. Flea larvae look like very small maggots. They live off the feces left behind by their adult siblings—but can also eat particles of food, dead insects, feathers and dead skin cells.
The larvae stage lasts for about 4-18 days. Larvae form cocoons and become pupae. They live in these cocoons for anywhere from one week to a year, so you may still have pupae for months after killing adult fleas. That’s why it is so important to use a flea and tick product that doesn’t just kill pests in the adult life cycle, but also eliminates flea eggs and larvae, like Frontline Plus flea & Tick Treatment. If you prefer a flea collar for your pet, the Seresto 8 Month Flea & Tick Collar for dogs and cats kill fleas and their larvae on contact.
If your dog is scratching and you suspect they may have come in contact with fleas, schedule a visit to your vet to assist with flea egg identification.
Preventing a Flea Infestation
Eliminating flea eggs is an essential part of preventing a flea infestation. Temperature directly affects flea reproductive cycles. Warm climates can speed up the process, so pet owners who live in warmer areas have even less time to eliminate fleas of all life stages before the next wave of flea babies arrive.
Keeping a clean home can help reduces your risk of an infestation. Flea eggs can hide in your couches, under pillows and even in your sheets. Use a pet vacuum to suck up tiny flea eggs. Handheld vacuums like the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser work best, since they’re easy to lift and get into tiny crevices and corners.
End the Cycle
There are multiple products to help kill adult fleas on dogs. Organic flea and tick shampoos, like Richard’s Organics, kill fleas and ticks without the use of harsh chemicals. Oral treatments like Capstar Flea Tablets for Dogs can be fed to your dog once daily to kill adult fleas within 4 hours.
To end the flea cycle, you’ll need to do more than treat your canine. You’ll need to kill flea eggs nesting in your home as well. A dog flea and tick spray for the home, like Vet’s Best Dog Flea & Tick Home Spray, works to kill fleas, flea eggs and ticks on contact.
To effectively use flea home sprays, apply a light mist to areas until moist. Avoid soaking the fabric; a mist is all you need to be effective. Be sure to spray indoor and outdoor areas, as flea eggs can survive outdoors as well.
“Prevention is the best medicine,” says Dr. Vance. Keep your precious pup safe from vicious fleas by killing flea egg and ending the flea life cycle before it becomes a larger problem for you and your pet.
Michelle McKinley is dedicated to creating informative pieces that help pet parents train, care for and love their cuddly companions. She operates a digital ad agency providing content to enterprise and small businesses. As a writer for Chewy, Michelle delights in sharing tips and techniques that strengthen the relationship between owner and pet. She works with experienced veterinarians, knowledgeable pet behaviorists and pet brands to bring the best in pet to readers.