Petriage Clinical Insights

IMPORTANT: This article, which is provided for educational purposes only, is based on published veterinary data and decades of work with pets and pet parents. The information provided here is not designed to be comprehensive but to help you avoid the pitfalls of online misinformation and most importantly, to frame the conversation you should have with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian’s perspective may differ from what is expressed here. Always consult with your veterinarian.


Your pet may itch for many reasons. Do not assume fleas unless you find evidence of them. Finding only one flea indicates there are more fleas on your pet and in your home. You must treat any evidence of fleas. 


  • Use a flea comb, found at any pet store, to search for evidence of fleas. Fleas are dark brown or black and are very small, about the size of a pencil tip. You may see live fleas or very small black specks of flea feces, known as "flea dirt." It is common to only find "flea dirt."
  • To confirm if specks are "flea dirt," place them on a white paper towel and slightly dampen. If the speck dissolves into a reddish brown color, you have found "flea dirt" and evidence that your pet has fleas.


  • If you do not find evidence of fleas, have the itching evaluated by your vet.
  • If you find any evidence of fleas, you must treat all pets in the house and treat the environment. Failure to treat the environment will lead to overall treatment failure. Pet flea treatments and flea sprays for your home can be found online or in any pet store. 
  • Treat all pets with flea treatment. 
  • Thoroughly vacuum the entire home and apply flea spray to all areas frequented by your pet. If you are reluctant to use a strong insecticide spray, you can use less toxic options like food grade diatomaceous earth. 
  • The number of fleas does not correlate to the severity of itching. Some pets have a greater immune response than others. Consult with your vet about receiving an anti-itching medication while you treat the infestation.