Fleas are a nuisance, both for you and your pets, and it is common for pets to suffer from flea infestation. The heavier the infestation, the tougher it is to keep your pet safe. The key is to identify the problem early so that the right flea treatment course can be adopted.

There are numerous flea treatment options, but an informed choice will help in providing the best and long-lasting relief for your pet. Read on to learn more about flea infestation and flea treatment options.

What is a flea infestation in pets?

There are over 2,500 species of fleas all over the world. Identifying a flea is quite easy, especially if they are adult fleas. However, the bad news is that for every adult flea, it is assumed that about 100 immature ones are hanging around. Once your pet is afflicted with a flea infestation, these tiny, blood-sucking parasites will not only make life miserable for your pet, but the infestation will spread all over your home. Thankfully, there is an array of flea treatment options to deal with a flea infestation in pets.

Symptoms of flea infestation in common pets

A flea treatment plan can only be devised once you note the symptoms. While these symptoms are broadly the same for all pets, some may be unique to the kind of pet you have. The common symptoms are:

  • Itching and redness of the skin
  • Adult fleas look like spots of pepper-like substance in the areas your pet has been or on your pet’s fur
  • You may also find larvae (worm-like things) and pupa of fleas on your pet’s most-preferred furniture or the carpet


Generally, red bumps or pimples tend to appear on the dog’s belly or groin. Sometimes, these bumps can also appear at the base of the dog’s tail and/or under the legs. Due to excessive itching, dogs are bound to experience loss of hair or excessively dry skin. This requires urgent attention and flea treatment, as ignoring the condition will lead to worsening of the symptoms. The bumps can turn into crusty lesions and other flea-related diseases.


Apart from the common symptoms of excessive scratching and itching, you might observe the following.

  • Change in behavior - Is your cat growling a lot? darting from one room to another? shaking its head a lot? and essentially behaving like a wildcat? Well, your cat is probably infested with fleas.
  • Pale gums - If your cat looks pale, lethargic, and has dull-looking gums, it is probably a sign of anemia. Fleas suck blood and this may lead to your cat being anemic.
  • Avoiding certain parts of your home - Fleas like warm environments. So, if your cat is avoiding a certain part of your home, then it is probably because that part is infested by fleas.


In the case of rabbits, always watch out for hair loss and visible bite marks on their skin. Scaling on the skin will also indicate that your rabbit may have a flea infestation. Besides, fleas tend to make rabbits anemic. This may lead to a pale mucous membrane and an increased heart rate. A vet will be able to suggest the right flea treatment course in this case.


As compared to dogs, cats, and rabbits, birds display slightly different symptoms when they have fleas or mites.

  • You may see a crust-like build-up near the eyes or beak.
  • Make sure you watch the feet. A dry scaly appearance with a white crust, swollen feet, or rashes on the feet are signs of fleas.
  • Coughing and sneezing are very commonly associated with an infestation in the air sacs of a bird’s lungs.
  • A restless bird that constantly tries to scratch itself against the cage may be struggling with mites.

Flea treatment options for dogs

  • Oral chews - This flea treatment is a simple solution to your dog’s flea problem. These oral chewing tablets are absorbed by the bloodstream and eventually travel to the surface of the skin, eliminating the fleas. Several brands offer a range of options based on the breed and age of your dog.

  • Topical solutions - This sort of flea treatment is easy to use. All you need to do is choose the type of solution that works for your dog’s fleas. The solution, which is generally in liquid form, has to be rubbed/massaged onto the skin directly. Unless otherwise mentioned, the liquid is rubbed on the shoulder area of the dog. There are quite a few brands that offer these chemical solutions. However, it is best to follow this treatment on the advice of a vet.
  • Collars - This is one of the more economical options when it comes to good flea treatment. The collar comes coated with certain chemicals that repel fleas. What makes this a convenient option is that it works well as a precautionary measure, and is easily available in a variety of sizes.
  • Flea shampoos - There are several options when it comes to shampoos that can help with your dog’s flea problem. Ensure that you find the one that suits your dog’s fur. This bath product is perfect as all you need to do is let the shampoo stay in for a while before you wash it off. While most shampoos are chemical-based, you can opt for organic flea shampoos as well. It works as an effective flea treatment option and does not have any side-effects on your dog’s skin or fur.
  • Medication- You can go for over-the-counter or prescription-based antihistamines and steroids as medication. The right flea treatment will depend on the age of your dog and the extent of the infection. However, it is better to consult your vet before you take this route.

Flea treatment options for cats

  • Consult your vet - Consult your vet before you look at the best flea treatment options. Apart from guiding you correctly, the vet will ensure that you don’t lose time trying options that may not work.
  • Topical or spot-on products - Treatments that are applied directly to the skin of a cat work great. There are quite a few brands to pick from and the products are easy to use. The ingredients vary, therefore, always base your decision on a vet’s advice and the symptoms your cat presents. Besides, always use a product that is specifically made for cats and not any other animal.
  • Powders and tablets - Powders may be easy to use but are not the best flea treatment option. It’s only effective as long as the powder stays on the coat of your cat. Therefore, vets prescribe tablets as these work better because they course through the bloodstream of the cat and eliminate fleas.
  • Flea growth regulators – These cover many of the products mentioned above. Flea growth regulators are highly effective, but it is important to combine them with products that can eliminate adult fleas. These regulators can be found in injection-form or oral supplements. A vet will be able to provide more comprehensive information on the same.
  • Collars – Some flea treatments for cats and dogs are quite similar. However, the ingredients and the dosages vary. So, you mustn't use one for the other and vice versa. An insecticide collar generally contains active ingredients such as methoprene, pyrethroids, and permethrin. However, it is best to use these carefully, as sometimes the chemicals in the collars may lead to local skin infections.

Treatment options for fleas in rabbits

Most tick and flea medicine manufacturers do not have solutions that apply to rabbits specifically. This means that you need to be careful about the medicines you choose when you treat your flea infestation in rabbits. The right flea treatment is best decided by a vet as the dosages, strength, and combination of medicines may vary based on the rabbit (as they can be tiny ones, weighing just about 1 lb., or big ones that weigh close to 18 lbs.). Here are some of the possible flea treatment options for rabbits.

  • Topical creams - The challenge with this flea treatment is the dosage. Ensure that you understand how much cream must be used. Further, make sure you follow directions and apply the cream on the back. That way, your rabbit will be unable to lick the medicine. If you have more than one rabbit, make sure you keep the rabbits from licking the medicine off each other’s back.
  • Flea powders - Flea powders are effective as flea treatment but you must treat your home and other pets if any. Fleas that fall off from your rabbit may survive on your carpet or leap onto your other pets.
  • Medications - Many fleas and tick medicines will work to eradicate or control the flea problem in rabbits. Advantage and Revolution are brands that make flea medicines for cats, which often seem to work well on rabbits too. However, it is important to seek the advice of your vet, so that your pet can receive the right dosage.
  • Flea combs - While this may not take care of the problem permanently, they work effectively to remove pesky little fleas. You can run the comb through your rabbit’s coat. Do not forget to check for fleas around your pet’s ears and legs. You can dip the comb in warm soapy water or alcohol to eliminate the fleas. Also, make sure you clean the comb before you repeat the process.

Treatment options for fleas in birds

Fleas are common in birds, especially during the springtime. This is the time that birds are generally nesting and breeding. Indoor birds can easily pick up fleas and ticks when the cage is taken outside during warm months. Also, they can get infected when they walk on floors that may be infected. To help you deal with a flea infestation in your bird, here are the main flea treatment options.

  • Over-the-counter products - Several products, such as sprays, topical creams, and aerosols can help in reducing flea infection. Typically, these products must be sprayed on the birds from a distance of 12-18 inches. Use three or four short bursts, and make sure you avoid the eyes and beak of the bird. You may need to spray the cage thoroughly after you remove the cups and trays from the unit. You can repeat the process once or twice depending on the extent of infection. Also, make sure you clean the cage with hot water to prevent further infestation.
  • Avian vet - It is important to consult an avian veterinarian for the right flea treatment. There are so many bird species, and it is important to give the right dose of medication to your pet. Also, a flea or mite infestation points towards an unhealthy immune system. So, it is important to treat the root cause of the problem. As flea infestation usually weakens their immune system, it is advisable to revise your bird’s diet to make it more nourishing and healthy.
  • Lousing treatments - The vet may prescribe the lousing treatment for your bird that will eliminate any lice outbreak. Besides, the vet may also suggest a medicated spray that will eradicate the flea or mites infestation, if any.

To wrap up, there is no doubt that pets have a special place in your home and are part of the family. Whether it is a cat, dog, rabbit, or bird, ensure they get the necessary and timely care. As a precaution against flea infestation, clean your pet’s enclosures, your home and provide a safe environment for them. Also, consult a vet in case your pet requires flea treatment.