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How Did My Dog Get Fleas? 5 Likely Ways

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

tibetan mastiff scratching

Perhaps you noticed your dog scratching a little too much? Or maybe you noticed flea dirt on their stomach? Either way, it can be confusing and frustrating when you find your dog with fleas.

You may be trying to figure out which dog gave fleas to your dog. However, as you’ll find out in this article, your dog usually doesn’t catch fleas from other canines. Instead, there are a few other places you’ll need to look to find the source.Divider 1

The 5 Likely Ways Your Dog Got Fleas

1. Your Own Yard

The prime place a dog can get fleas in is their own backyard. Fleas can jump around in the grass and will seek out animals that they can feed on. While fleas can live on the grass for a while, they need a host to eat and breed. If there are no other domestic animals that commonly hang out in your yard, the fleas likely came from wild animals like squirrels, deer, and rabbits.

Sadly, there isn’t much you can do about this. In many cases, the fleas will continue to hang out in your yard. You can treat your yard, but this can be harmful to the ecosystem and only works for a short time.

Instead, the only way to protect your pup from these “wild” fleas is to give them a long-acting flea medication. This can be topical or oral – both work about the same. However, oral products require that your pet be bitten before they kill the fleas, which creates the possibility for your dog to track the fleas in your house.

a doberman digging on the yard
Image Credit: Lars Forseth, Pixabay

2. The Groomer

If you take your pet to the groomer, there is a chance they might pick up fleas. Many other dogs come to the groomer, and fleas lay tons of eggs in a day. That can lead to plenty of infection opportunities for your canine. The flea can potentially jump from one dog to your dog, but the chances are higher that the groomer’s gear has become infected.

All facilities take care to prevent infestations. However, they can happen when a piece of equipment isn’t washed correctly or if your dog is kept close to another animal. This isn’t necessarily a sign that you need to find a new groomer, as infestations are inevitable at any facility that handles lots of dogs. It’s just a matter of when. You may have been unlucky.

3. People

While people aren’t usually long-term flea hosts, the tiny bugs can hitch a ride momentarily. If that person comes to your house, the fleas can find your dog and start an outbreak. The person doesn’t necessarily have to have a dog either. Fleas can infect many animals, including rabbits and cats. If your visitors have any pets, they can bring fleas into your home.

Furthermore, anyone who works outside or otherwise spends time outdoors can pick up fleas from the ground and track them in. Someone may sit next to another person on the bus, prompting a flea swap. It is nearly impossible to track where the fleas came from in this manner. Anyone from anywhere could have brought it in.

an old lady walking her dogs
Image Credit: No-longer-here, Pixabay

4. You

People can pick up fleas outside the home, whether it is from another animal or the environment. Either way, you could have easily tracked fleas in from another source. Because your dog comes into regular contact with you, this is one of the most likely scenarios.

You can do little about this, as you can theoretically pick up fleas from just about anywhere. The best thing to do is give your dog a flea prevention medication, which will prevent outbreaks from occurring even if you bring fleas home. There are many products on the market you can potentially use. Be sure to research each one and follow the directions. It is essential to give your dog another dose whenever you’re supposed to.

5. Other Dogs

Even though it isn’t always from other dogs, your dog can most definitely get fleas from other dogs. This can happen at the dog park, where your dog may come into contact with lots of other animals that may have fleas. Any physical contact can cause fleas to be transferred. However, fleas can also jump quite far.

The ground at the dog park is also likely covered in fleas, which will seek out dogs for food. Once again, there isn’t anything you can directly do about this. It is nearly impossible to clear out all the fleas at a dog park. However, you can give your dog a medication that kills the fleas that happen to land on them, which can prevent you from bringing fleas home.

dogs playing
Image Credit: 825545, Pixabay

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Here are some common questions regarding fleas and infestations. If you still have some concerns or questions, you’ll hopefully find an answer here:

Can Your Dog Get Fleas From Grass?

Yes, your dog can get fleas from grass, even though fleas cannot survive on grass for extended periods. This is mainly because the fleas can jump off other animals, whether it’s your neighbor’s cat or a squirrel. Then, your dog can pick up the flea when it comes into contact with the grass.

Fleas reproduce very quickly, so if there is one in your yard, there are probably many more. Furthermore, the grass will continue to be infested with fleas as the same animals bring them around. Once one flea ends up in your yard, it is nearly impossible to get rid of them.

Can Your Dog Have Fleas If You Can’t See Them?

Fleas are relatively good at hiding. If you can’t see them, it could likely be because they’re hidden in spots that you aren’t looking for. They’re also quite skittish, so they may run from the area you’re searching before you have a chance to spot them. It is relatively common to miss the fleas in the early days until they multiply and a real infestation occurs.

Usually, it is best to be safe rather than sorry in this circumstance. You do not want to assume your pet doesn’t have fleas and then have to treat an infestation later. When you first expect your pet to have fleas, bathe them with appropriate shampoo and start them on medication. If your dog got fleas once, the odds are high that they will get them again.

Can A Dog Have Flea Dirt And No Fleas?

Yes, if you’ve already treated your canine for fleas. It is possible that you missed all the flea dirt the first time around and then noticed it later. However, if you haven’t recently treated your puppy, the odds are somewhat low that they don’t have fleas. Fleas rarely disappear by themselves.

If you notice flea dirt, it is essential to treat your pup as quickly as possible. A single flea can multiple very quickly, making the fleas harder to get rid of.

What Does A Flea Look Like On A Dog?

Fleas look like tiny, black bugs. They aren’t so tiny that they’re hard to see, though. Usually, they’re about 1-2 mm long. You’ll likely be able to see them running around and may even be able to see their small legs.

Flea dirt is much harder to notice, as it looks like too tiny specs of dirt. It is hard to tell flea dirt apart from regular dirt. However, flea dirt is dried blood or at least contains dried blood. It can tint water red and may have a reddish tint – two things that can give it away as flea dirt and not regular dirt.

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Featured image credit: Sergey Lavrentev, Shutterstock

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