What Exactly is Flea Dirt? Things Every Dog Owner Should Know

As

a dog owner, you’re probably familiar with problems like fleas and ticks. After all, fleas are very common and found throughout the entire country. You may even check your dog regularly to ensure your dog is clean and free of these pests. Flea baths, collars, and veterinarian recommended treatments are all viable options for getting rid of fleas. Average ticks and fleas are fairly easy to spot if you know what they look like, and they are usually easy to get rid of. However, flea dirt is a bit more confusing for dog owners. Flea dirt may just look like fleas at a glance, but that’s certainly not the case.

Flea dirt on dogs is a common problem, but it’s still a bit hard to understand at first. You may notice some dark, dirty spots on your dog’s fur, or perhaps someone pointed it out to you. You may be wondering why you see these dirty spots, but you aren’t seeing any actual fleas. If you’re scratching your head and wondering what in the world flea dirt is, don’t worry too much. This question is not unusual in the pet owner community. That’s why we’ve put together some information to help you figure out this problem. Read on to learn more about flea dirt and what you can do to get rid of it.

What Is Flea Dirt?

Flea

dirt is a nickname used to describe flea feces. It may be found in your dog’s fur or directly on his skin; it is also found on cats. The feces also contains blood that the fleas have sucked from your dog. Flea dirt is commonly caused by female fleas when they are in their reproductive stage. During this time, they consume much more blood than normal, and this may make it more noticeable on your dog. Flea dirt is considered a sign of a flea infestation on your dog.

You can tell if your dog has flea dirt by doing a simple test. Janet Tobiassen Crosby says to use a wet paper towel or cotton ball to gently wipe some of the dirt-like material off of your dog. On your dog, the substance just looks like small black specks. If it is flea dirt, it will disintegrate into a reddish-brown substance due to the dried blood. As you may already know, this does not happen when you’re removing actual fleas or parasites from your dog’s coat and skin.

What Does Flea Dirt Look Like?

Many

people compare the look of flea dirt to flecks of black pepper. Flea dirt is commonly found on a dog’s belly, but it can be found anywhere that fleas were present. As mentioned above, you may notice these tiny black spots on your dog’s fur or skin. You can find flea dirt pictures here and here. If you touch one of these specks, you may notice that it feels hard or somewhat crusty. This is due to the material – blood and feces – that the spots are made of. Perform the test mentioned above to see if what you are looking at is actually flea dirt. Make sure to thoroughly wash your hands after touching your dog’s skin, hair, and the flea dirt itself.

What If I See Flea Dirt But No Fleas?

If

you see flea dirt but no fleas, you may wonder what in the world is going on. Does this mean you have nothing to worry about? Are all of your dog’s fleas gone now? Not exactly. Don’t dismiss the problem just because you do not see any fleas present. It is pretty normal to see flea dirt but no fleas if:

  • Your dog is good at grooming himself, so he removes fleas frequently.
  • You have a long-haired dog, making it more difficult to see fleas.
  • There are only one or two fleas, but they are consuming large amounts of blood (see the information about female fleas above).
  • The flea dirt is left over from before you applied a flea removal treatment to your dog.

Overall, it is important to remember that flea dirt means that fleas are present or were very recently present. That means that your dog most likely needs to be treated for fleas. If you have recently applied a flea removal treatment, call your veterinarian to find out when it is safe to perform another treatment.

How Do I Get Rid Of Flea Dirt?

Aside

from getting rid of fleas, you will need to remove the flea dirt from your dog’s skin and coat. There are a couple of different ways that you can do this. We did some searching, and these methods of flea dirt removal are very common:

  • Give your dog a bath in warm water. Warm water should help soften the hardened blood and feces. Let your dog soak in the water for at least several minutes to ensure the spots are fully softened or disintegrated.
  • Use a fine tooth flea comb to gently remove the flea dirt. You may want to do this if a bath does not completely remove all of the flea dirt.
  • Use a damp rag or sponge to lightly exfoliate the affected area. The water should soften the flea dirt, and the exfoliation should help remove it from your dog’s skin.
  • Lastly, use a canine flea shampoo to help remove any fleas, too.

It is important for you to get rid of flea dirt as soon as possible. Even if you do not see any fleas, it is best to treat your dog as if fleas are present. Also, make sure that the flea shampoo you use is formulated for dogs. The formula for feline flea shampoo contains different ingredients that may not be safe or suitable for your dog.

Cleaning Your Home After Finding Flea Dirt

Even

after you treat your dog, it’s possible for a re-infestation to occur. This is the last thing you want your poor pup to deal with, and it’s not ideal for you, either. When fleas are in your home, it’s important to thoroughly clean to remove them. Fortunately, doing this is fairly easy.

Some options you have for cleaning your home include:

  • Washing all of the towels and blankets in your home in hot water and detergent. This is especially important for blankets or towels that your dog uses. You can wash or sanitize your dog’s fabric toys, too. White vinegar may be beneficial in killing bacteria on blankets, towels, and toys, too. Add a cup into each load of laundry.
  • Use a ‘bug bomb’ or fogger to completely kill every flea in your home. It’s very crucial to follow directions closely when you use these kinds of products. You may need to vacate your home for a period of time, too. It’s especially important to make sure your pet is not exposed to the chemicals in flea foggers.  Make sure to take necessary safety precautions – these chemicals are effective but very toxic.
  • Do some yard work if your dog spends time outdoors. This WikiHow article states that if your dog spends at least five percent of his time outside, you’ll need to treat your yard for fleas. Rake your yard to remove debris, and mow your lawn. This will drastically reduce the areas that fleas have to thrive. Then thoroughly spray your yard using an insecticide designed to kill fleas. Follow instructions closely and do not let your dog outside until the treatment is fully completed and dried.

Make sure that your dog is safely away from any flea killing products that you use in or around your home. If you would prefer not to kill fleas by using chemicals, you certainly don’t have to. Look for natural flea infestation removal products that contain Diatomaceous earth or powdered pyrethrum to kill fleas around your home. You can also speak with your dog’s veterinarian about earth-friendly options for flea and flea dirt removal.

What Else Should I Know About Flea Dirt?

We’ve

pretty much covered all of the information you need to know about flea dirt. However, there are a couple of things you should certainly keep in mind. Getting rid of flea dirt is usually not a “one and done” type of deal. It’s beneficial to consistently check your dog for fleas and flea dirt. You may have to go through the treatment and cleaning phases above more than once, too. But be patient and persistent, as getting rid of flea dirt will keep your pup much more happy, clean, and comfortable.

Lastly, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian if you’ve got any questions or concerns. While we are happy to provide as much help as possible, you certainly want to get the best care for your dog. Every situation is unique, and you want to use the right flea dirt removal methods for your pup. If you feel the need to schedule an appointment, definitely don’t hesitate to do so! Having that solid reassurance that your dog is healthy and happy is a feeling that cannot be beaten.