6 Clear Signs: How to Know if Your Puppy Has Fleas

Bringing a new puppy into your life is an exciting and joyful experience. However, as a responsible pet parent, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential health issues that can affect your furry companion. One common problem that many puppy owners encounter is fleas. These tiny, persistent parasites can cause discomfort and distress for your puppy if left untreated. In this informative blog post, we will discuss 6 clear signs on how to know if your puppy has fleas. Within each of these clear signs, we will discuss symptoms to look for and how to help provide your pup some comfort and of course get rid of those pesky fleas. Understanding these signs and taking prompt action will help you keep your puppy happy, healthy, and flea-free. 

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6 Clear Signs: How to Know if your puppy has fleas:

  1. Excessive Scratching: If your puppy constantly scratches or bites at their fur, it could be a sign of a flea problem. 
  2. Visible Fleas or Flea Dirt: Keep an eye out for tiny brown or black insects scurrying through your puppy’s fur. Additionally, flea dirt, which looks like black pepper sometimes.
  3. Hair Loss or Patchy Coat: Fleas can cause hair loss in localized areas, resulting in patchy or thinning fur. Check for any unusual bald spots on your puppy’s body.
  4. Red and Irritated Skin: Flea bites can cause skin inflammation, leading to redness, irritation, and even sores. 
  5. Restlessness or Agitation: Fleas are notorious for causing discomfort, making your puppy restless or agitated. 
  6. Pale Gums: Severe flea infestations can lead to anemia, which can be detected by pale gums in your puppy’s mouth. If you notice paleness in their gums, it’s essential to seek veterinary attention

Remember, signs of fleas may vary in severity, and it’s always best to consult a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment if you suspect your puppy has fleas. 

Continue reading for everything to know about the 6 clear signs and how you can help your dog with its discomfort. 

white dog jumping in the woods

1 – Excessive Scratching

When it comes to fleas, excessive scratching is one of the most common signs that your puppy may be infested.

Symptoms of Excessive Dog Scratching from Fleas:

  • Persistent scratching: If you notice your puppy scratching themselves persistently, especially in certain areas like the neck, base of the tail, or behind the ears, it could be a sign of flea infestation.
  • Biting and chewing: Fleas can drive dogs to bite or chew their skin, trying to relieve the itching sensation caused by flea bites. 

How to help your dog with their excessive scratching:

  • Regular grooming: Coming your puppy’s fur on a regular basis with a flea comb can help remove adult fleas and their eggs. Remember to dispose of any fleas or debris in soapy water to prevent re-infestation.
  • Bathing with flea-repellent shampoo: Using a mild, flea-repellent shampoo formulated for puppies can help eliminate fleas and provide temporary relief from itching. Follow the instructions on the shampoo bottle carefully to avoid further irritation to your pet’s skin.
  • Apple cider vinegar spray: Dilute apple cider vinegar with water (1:1 ratio) and spray it onto your puppy’s fur. Fleas dislike the scent of vinegar, and this can help deter them temporarily.
  • Keep the environment clean: It’s a good idea to wash your dog’s bedding regularly in hot water can help eliminate fleas and prevent their recurrence. Dog owners usually vacuum their homes more often as well to help with shedding.
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2 – Visible Flea or Flea Dirt

Spotting flea larvae, actual live fleas, flea eggs, or flea dirt on your dog is an indication of a flea infestation. 

Symptoms of Visible Fleas or Flea Dirt on Dogs

  • Fleas: Keep a close eye on your dog’s fur and skin, particularly in areas where fleas tend to gather, such as the neck, back, and belly. Look for tiny, fast-moving insects, usually brown or black in color, crawling through your dog’s coat. They can be difficult to see to the naked eye but red bumps, dry skin, red pimples or insect-like bites are telltale signs of fleas. Be sure to pull out that iPhone light and take a close look at your dog’s fur.
  • Flea Dirt: Flea dirt resembles small black or brown specks and is often found on your dog’s skin or in their bedding. To confirm whether it is flea dirt, you can perform a simple test – place the specks on a wet paper towel. If they turn reddish-brown due to the presence of digested blood, it is likely flea dirt.

How to help your dog with Visible Fleas or Flea Dirt

  • Flea combing: Regularly comb your dog’s fur using a fine-toothed flea comb. Comb through the fur slowly, focusing on areas where fleas or flea dirt are commonly found. Dip the comb in a mixture of mild soapy water to drown any fleas or flea dirt that are removed.
  • Lemon spray: Create a natural flea-repellent spray by mixing freshly squeezed lemon juice with water. Lightly spray the solution onto your dog’s fur, avoiding the eyes and any open wounds. Fleas dislike the citrus scent, which can help deter them temporarily
black specks on dog that are fleas

3 – Hair Loss and Patchy Coat caused by Fleas

Fleas not only cause discomfort and itching but can also lead to hair loss and a patchy coat in dogs. 

Symptoms of Hair Loss and Patchy Coat caused by Fleas

  • Bald Spots: Look for areas on your dog’s body where hair loss has occurred. Fleas often target specific regions, such as the base of the tail, back, or hindquarters, resulting in bald patches.
  • Thin or Sparse Coat: Flea infestations can lead to a thinning or sparse coat overall. Observe your dog’s fur for any changes in volume, density, or overall appearance.

How to help your dog with hair loss and patchy coat from Fleas

  • Flea treatment and prevention: The first step in addressing hair loss and patchy coat caused by fleas is to eliminate the fleas themselves. Consult with a veterinarian to determine the most suitable flea treatment for your dog, such as topical treatments, oral medications, or flea collars. Treating and preventing fleas will help halt the cycle of hair loss and allow the coat to regrow.
  • Gentle grooming: Regularly groom your dog using a soft-bristle brush to stimulate blood flow and promote hair regrowth. This can also help remove dead hair and flea debris, preventing further irritation.
  • Soothing baths: Give your dog soothing baths using a gentle, hypoallergenic shampoo specifically formulated for dogs. This can help alleviate any itching or inflammation associated with flea bites, promoting a healthy coat.

4 – Red and irritated skin

  • Red bumps that appear red, inflamed, or swollen. Flea bites can trigger an allergic reaction in some dogs, leading to heightened skin sensitivity and irritation.
  • Hot Spots: Flea bites can create hot spots, which are localized areas of intense inflammation. These spots may appear as moist, red, and painful patches on your dog’s skin.

How to help your dog with Red and Irritated Skin from Fleas:

  • Regular flea control: The primary step in managing red and irritated skin caused by fleas is to control the flea infestation itself. Consult with a veterinarian to determine the most effective flea treatment for your dog, such as topical treatments, oral medications, or flea collars. 
  • Cool Compress: Apply a cool, damp washcloth or an ice pack wrapped in a towel to the affected areas. The cold temperature can help reduce inflammation and soothe your dog’s irritated skin.
  • Oatmeal Baths: Consider giving your dog an oatmeal bath to soothe its red and irritated skin. Oatmeal has anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve itching and reduce redness. Use an oatmeal-based shampoo specifically formulated for dogs, following the instructions provided.
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5 – Restlessness and Agitation Caused by Fleas

Fleas can cause significant discomfort to dogs, resulting in restlessness and agitation. 

Symptoms of Restlessness and Agitation caused by Fleas:

  • Constant Movement: Dogs infested with fleas often exhibit restlessness and cannot seem to settle down. They may frequently change positions and pace, or exhibit signs of discomfort.
  • Excessive Scratching or Biting: Fleas trigger intense itching, leading to constant scratching or biting in affected areas. This restless behavior is an attempt to relieve the irritation caused by flea bites.
  • Irritability or Aggression: Dogs experiencing discomfort from flea bites may become irritable or exhibit uncharacteristic aggression. They may snap, growl, or resist being touched due to their heightened sensitivity.

How to help your dog with Restlessness and Agitation from Fleas

  • Calming environment: Create a calm and comfortable home environment for your dog to help alleviate restlessness. Provide a quiet space, soothing music, and a familiar blanket or bed to help them relax.
  • Massage and gentle touch: Massage your dog gently using slow, calming strokes. This can help reduce their anxiety and promote relaxation. Be mindful of any sensitive areas due to flea bites.

6 – Pale Gums caused by Fleas

Flea infestations can have various effects on dogs, including pale gums. Recognizing the symptoms of pale gums and taking appropriate measures is crucial for dog owners.

Symptoms of Pale Gums caused by Fleas

  • Gum Color Change: Check your dog’s gums for any noticeable change in color. Normally, healthy gums appear pink, but if they appear pale or white, it could indicate anemia caused by fleas.
  • Weakness or Fatigue: Anemia resulting from a severe flea infestation can cause dogs to feel weak or fatigued. If your dog seems excessively tired or lacks energy, it may be related to pale gums
  • Rapid Breathing or Panting: Dogs with pale gums may exhibit rapid breathing or panting, even in the absence of physical exertion. This could be a sign of decreased oxygen-carrying capacity in the blood.

​How to help your dog who has pale gums from fleas

It’s important to note that pale gums could be a sign of various underlying health issues beyond flea infestations. If you observe persistent pale gums in your dog, consult with a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and tailored treatment options. Prompt medical attention is essential to address any potential underlying conditions and ensure your dog’s well-being.

10 Effective Flea Treatments

​If your dog has fleas, it’s not a fun adventure with your pup! But, there are many great ways to help prevent fleas as well as help rid your dog of fleas if they should get them. See below for 10 effective flea treatments for your pup.

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1 – Flea control products

Consult with your veterinarian about suitable flea control products such as topical treatments, oral medications, or flea collars. These products can help eliminate fleas and provide long-term protection.

2 – Anti-itch sprays or creams

Look for over-the-counter anti-itch sprays or creams specifically designed for dogs. These products can provide temporary relief from itching and soothe your puppy’s irritated skin. We used this itch spray for Wes for his hot spots or if we ever suspected any kind of bug bite.

3 – Medicated shampoos

Look for medicated shampoos specifically formulated to treat skin conditions like flea allergy dermatitis. These shampoos often contain ingredients like hydrocortisone or antihistamines, which can help reduce itching and inflammation.

4 – Topical products

Consider using topical treatments designed to alleviate the symptoms of flea allergy dermatitis. These treatments may contain ingredients like hydrocortisone or aloe vera, which can provide relief from itching and promote healing of the skin. Try this topical product for your dog.

5 – Oral medications

In severe cases, veterinarians may prescribe oral medications, such as antihistamines or corticosteroids, to control the allergic reaction and provide relief from itching and inflammation

6 – Iron supplements for Pale Gums

Consult with a veterinarian about iron supplements suitable for dogs. These supplements can help replenish iron levels and support the production of healthy red blood cells. Follow the dosage instructions provided by your veterinarian.

7 – Nutritional supplements for pale gums

Consider using store-bought nutritional supplements designed to support overall health and vitality in dogs. Look for supplements that contain essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B12 and folic acid, which are crucial for red blood cell production.

8 – Calming supplements

Consider using over-the-counter calming supplements formulated for dogs. These products often contain natural ingredients like chamomile, lavender, or melatonin, which can help soothe restlessness and promote relaxation. Consult with a veterinarian before using any supplements.

9 – Anxiety wraps or shirts

Anxiety wraps, such as Thundershirts, provide gentle pressure that can help alleviate restlessness and anxiety in dogs. These wraps mimic the feeling of being held or swaddled, providing a sense of security.

10 – Diffusers or sprays

Look for pheromone-based diffusers or sprays designed to create a calming atmosphere for dogs. These products release synthetic pheromones that mimic the natural calming scents produced by mother dogs, helping to reduce restlessness and anxiety.

Peppermint scent and color flea and tick plant powered collar for dogs

Remember, while home remedies and store-bought products can help manage flea-related scratching, it’s important to address the root cause by eliminating the fleas themselves. Always seek advice from your veterinarian for flea prevention and flea treatments.


If you’re a dog owner, it’s important to be aware of the signs that your puppy may have fleas. The best way to help your dog if you spot any signs of fleas is to seek veterinary advice for the best treatment. Flea infestations can cause discomfort and health issues for your furry friend, so early detection is key. In this blog post, we have highlighted six clear signs to look out for. Excessive scratching, visible fleas or flea dirt, hair loss and patchy coat, red and irritated skin, restlessness and agitation, pale gums, and flea allergy dermatitis indicate your puppy may have fleas. We have also provided helpful information on home remedies and store-bought products to address these signs and help your puppy find relief. By recognizing the signs early on and taking appropriate measures, you can ensure the well-being and comfort of your dog. The good news is that fleas can be treated.