Can I Catch Fleas From My Dog?

November 20, 2019

Unfortunately, fleas are hardy little creatures. They are very difficult to eradicate completely and reinfestation is a common occurrence. If your pet has fleas, you may have questions: how do I spot fleas before they get out of hand? Can I catch fleas from my dog? How do I get rid of fleas on cats? Fleas are generally regarded as REVOLTING. Fleas are small wingless parasites that survive by sucking the blood out of warm-blooded hosts and they breed very quickly. Tiny nearly invisible bugs, combined with a short week-long breeding cycle, means an infestation could be out of control before you notice.

Looking For Signs Of Fleas

Fleas leave clear signs of their presence. You may suspect fleas if your dog is unusually itchy, but there are other cues too.

Flea bites often cause small red bumps to appear on the skin, sometimes with a spot in the middle or a halo around it. They often occur in groups of two or three. In humans, you may see them concentrated around the feet, ankles, and lower legs.

Flea infestations often also mean:

  • Pepper-sized specks on your pet’s skin or in bedding (which is flea feces, consisting of digested blood)
  • Tiny white ovals (flea eggs) or worms (larvae)
  • Unusual red, scaly areas of skin on humans or pets
  • Patchy hair loss or excessive abnormal shedding
  • Pale pet gums, which can indicate anemia

How Fleas Affect You And Your Pet

Fleas are, above all, annoying.

They can wreak havoc on your pet's long-term health, your home, and your budget.

They have tiny sharp spines surrounding their entire head and their saliva contains an enzyme that produces a sharp pinching sensation on the surface of the skin, so they actually cause pain when they bite.

Fleas can cause skin irritation and constant scratching and gnawing can cause hair loss in your pet. He may be itchy and uncomfortable, which can make him anxious and unusually aggressive.

Fleas are parasites that carry smaller parasites and serious diseases. Everyone remembers learning about the bubonic plague spread by fleas on rats, but there are other concerns too.

Fleas are often vectors for tapeworms. Dog and cats grooming themselves will swallow fleas and develop tapeworms as well. A household being treated for fleas should ideally be dewormed at the same time.

The flea bites themselves, especially if you or your pet are scratching and open them up, can get infected. Bites that have gotten infected will get red, turn warm, and may pose pus and blood. The infection, if left unattended, may turn systemic (which means it made its way to the bloodstream and is circulating around the entire body) requiring immediate life-saving care.

Bites that have been clawed or chewed open often lead to scarring.

Flea infestations can cause severe anemia in pets, especially those with chronic health conditions. A flea can ingest fifteen times their body weight in blood with every feeding - which means if the infestation is bad your pet could be losing a lot of blood!

Getting Rid Of Fleas In Your Home

Your first thought might be can I catch fleas from my dog?But your second thought is likely how do I get rid of fleas on dogs?

There are more than 2500 species of fleas and a single female can lay up to fifty eggs a day. A prolific reproduction cycle can quickly equal a serious invasion!

Fortunately for us, they all respond to the same treatments.

Treating your pet for fleas is not enough. Treating your home and car can be labor-intensive and expensive but it is essential to completely eliminate the fleas.

If you are in the middle of battling a flea infestation in your house, the first thing to do is make sure your pets and children are somewhere else. It is dangerous to have vulnerable people and animals near some chemicals, particularly aerosols.

There are some natural remedies for treating fleas, like dish soap and diatomaceous earth, should you desire a non-chemical option. They are considered to be less effective and might require more than one application.

Wear long sleeves and pants while you work. Fleas can not bite through clothing. Wear socks and shoes. Spray your legs and feet down with a bug spray containing DEET to keep from tracking fleas to other places.

Steps to getting rid of fleas include:

  • Treat your pets. Use a special flea shampoo on all your animals, then apply a preventative product every single month to avoid reinfestation.
  • Wash everything you can in hot soapy water. Include bedding for you and your pet. Dry twice on high heat to kill any remaining eggs.
  • Any nonporous item your dog uses regularly (like chewy toys and food bowls) should be run through the dishwasher and heat dried.
  • Use a carpet spray on every inch of carpet and upholstery. A steam cleaner can be helpful here as well.
  • Vacuum every surface thoroughly. If your vacuum uses a bag, throw it away outside immediately. If it has a tank, empty the tank outside and scrub it with hot soapy water before attaching to the vacuum.
  • Mop all hard floors, scrub down sinks and countertops, and wipe anything dust may settle on. Flea eggs can survive up to a year in dark, dusty hiding places.
  • Use a flea fogger in your house. You may need more than one depending on the size of your space, and it may require a second treatment. Choose a special fogger or spray for your yard and apply liberally.

For very bad invasions, a professional exterminator can be hired. Make sure they are using pet-safe chemicals to treat the whole house and yard. 

If you see a flea crawling around underneath your pet's fur, you may initially panic: can I catch fleas from my dog?

But if you use preventative medicine and notice the signs before the population becomes uncontrollable, you have a significantly better chance of eliminating the threat.

Ask your veterinarian for more details on avoiding fleas altogether.