What Do Fleas Look Like On Dogs?

  • Written By Dan Edwards on December 14, 2018
    Last Updated: December 30, 2020

Fleas are pet a owner’s worst nightmare. Once a house pet has fleas, they can be very difficult to get rid of. Not only will you have to treat the affected animal, you will also have to treat your whole house.

Fleas can affect many different animals. The Ctenocephalides felis, also known as the cat flea, is the most common of the species. This flea is found on many animals, such as: raccoons, cattle, foxes, and dogs.

Fleas are very tiny, but not invisible. Looking for signs of fleas is important. Stopping the infestation before it gets out of hand can save you and your pet a lot of pain and trouble. If you know what fleas look like, you can quickly find the problem and the right solution.

Where Do Fleas Normally Live/Hide On a Dog?

Fleas thrive in warm, humid environments. A dog, with its long warm coat, provides the perfect protection for the flea family. Fleas can’t survive more than three to four days without a host. They will usually die when the weather gets cold.

Depending on where you live, there might be a flea season. This season typically falls around late spring to summer time. In this time, the weather is nice and warm, and very humid in some places. This is prime time for fleas. Protecting your pets and preventing a flea attack is essential.

Other insects, such as ticks, also thrive in the same environment as the fleas. There are several flea preventatives that also protect the dog from ticks. This is important, since ticks can carry dangerous diseases, and they will bite on to humans.

During the cold months of winter the adult fleas die, but the eggs, larvae, and cocoons with the pupae, stay alive. When the weather heats up, the eggs will hatch.

Fleas rarely leave the host they are living on. They may jump over to other animals or objects the dog goes near, but they normally find their way back to the same host. Pet owners might also be experiencing a bit of the discomfort the dog is feeling. Fleas tend to bite the owners around the leg area. Don’t worry, the fleas might make a quick visit but they prefer your pet.

Flea Bites On Ankle
Flea Bites Around The Ankle

The eggs and larvae grow outside of a host. Generally, larvae are most commonly found inside thick carpets, where it is warm and cozy.

Fleas can live anywhere on a dog. The back and shoulder areas are the most common, but they also like the belly and groin area of the dog. Usually, you won’t see any fleas on the legs or paws of the dog.

flea bites on dog belly
Flea bites on a dog’s underbelly

Grooming habits and patterns will play a big role as to where you can find the fleas. They like to settle down in places where it’s difficult for the dog to reach. So, grooming your dog regularly may help to prevent a flea infestation. A dog who often gets bathed and brushed is not the ideal home for fleas to settle in.

What Do Fleas Look like on Dogs?

The first thing you may notice when your dog has fleas is the “flea dirt”. Flea dirt, or droppings, are from the ingested blood the flea feeds on. The flea larvae then feed on the flea feces. This will look like small dirt drops on the dog’s coat.

flea dirt on dog
Flea dirt on a dog’s underbelly

Normally you won’t be able to see the fleas on the dog since they are very small and move so quickly. However, there are a few signs to look out for, such as:

Checking the inside of the ears, the skin on the belly and around the groin of the dog is important. If the dog has fleas, these areas may be red, sore, and may contain red bumps and welts from all the scratching. The dog might also be bleeding a little in these sensitive areas.

Using a special flea comb to groom the dog carefully will also reveal if the dog has fleas or not. More on what fleas look like here.

What Do Flea Eggs Look like on Dogs?

Flea eggs are tiny white balls. When the female flea lays the eggs, she will typically lay them on the host where she is feeding. But the eggs can’t hold on to the host, so when the dog shakes or stretches, the eggs fly off.

The flea eggs are usually found around the area where the dog is spending the most time. Carpets and bedding where the dog sleeps are the most common places to find flea eggs.

Flea Eggs On Carpet
Flea eggs in the carpet – CC Image courtesy of Denni Schnapp

They can be hard to distinguish because they are so small. The flea eggs will look like small white flecks or grains of salt on the dog’s coat. They may also be visible on the bedding.

flea eggs

To get rid of the flea eggs and fleas, washing the dog with a special flea shampoo should do the job. You will also have to wash the bedding where the dog sleeps, and vacuum the surroundings. Washing the bedcovers in hot water and then tumble drying them should get rid of the eggs and kill the flea larvae that might also be there.


Knowing what fleas look like and the signs your dog may be showing is vital in order to stop a flea attack from getting out of hand. Fleas cause a lot of discomfort in dogs. Some dogs will scratch themselves to the point of bleeding. Fleas can cause other serious conditions, such as anemia and allergic reactions.

Fleas usually live in the neck and shoulder area of the dog, but they can also be found on the back, belly area, groin and around the ears. These places may become red and sore due to all the scratching.

The female flea will lay her eggs on the host. But the eggs will then fall off and land in the dog’s surroundings. The eggs are tiny white balls. You may notice them on the dog’s fur.