We pet our dogs all the time. But we do not always remember to truly examine them. One issue that can be missed is the presence of fleas. Not all dogs will scratch themselves when they have fleas, but if you look at your dog and examine their skin, you may be able to find evidence of fleas through the presence of something called “flea dirt.”
Flea dirt is essentially the feces of fleas, which consists of digested blood. It appears as small, black, pepper-like specks that are commonly found on a pet's skin, bedding, or favorite resting areas. It is noticeable not only because it looks strange on a pet’s skin, but also because it tends to occur in groups. Fleas like to lay their feces in the same place each time, resulting in what looks like dirt.
Flea dirt can also be identified by its dark color and tiny size. When placed on a damp paper towel, flea dirt will dissolve, leaving a reddish-brown stain due to its blood content.
The presence of flea dirt indicates an active flea infestation, which can lead to discomfort, itching, and more serious health issues for pets, such as flea allergy dermatitis or anemia in severe cases. Unless you have recently treated your dog for fleas, the presence of flea dirt will almost always mean that there are fleas present, whether you see them or not.
The good news is that flea dirt doesn’t necessarily require any special treatment. Treat for fleas using safe flea medications, and the fleas will die and the dirt will stop. It may still be a good idea, however, to wash your dog afterwards in order to make sure the dirt is washed away (both for their comfort and for your ability to identify future fleas) but once treated, it should no longer be an issue.
Flea dirt itself is believed to be harmless, though you should still wash your hands if you touch it and clean your pet. It is the fleas that pose a greater danger due to the way they harm your pet and its skin.
Flea dirt is a clear sign of a flea infestation that requires immediate attention to protect your pet's health and comfort. Luckily, it is easy to treat. Make sure your dog is regularly receiving its flea treatments, and always remember to monitor for flea dirt and other signs of a flea infestation. Top of Form