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What Is Flea Dirt on Dogs?

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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What is flea dirt?

Flea dirt is not really "dirt" at all. It is the feces of the flea that can be found on pets. It appears as small black flecks. Its appearance is similar to fresh ground pepper. Flea dirt is the bowel movement of the flea, and since fleas bite your dog and eat the blood, the bowel movement primarily contains digested blood.

Many dog owners never see the flea but they do find evidence of the flea, commonly referred to as "flea dirt".

Where can you find flea dirt on dogs?

Flea dirt is found on dogs that have fleas. It is most easily seen in areas of thin or light colored hair or in areas where fleas are often concentrated. The dog's dorsal back (just cranial to the tail) is a good spot to find flea dirt.

You can also find flea dirt in your pet's bedding. You can sometimes place a dog on a white blanket, sheet or towel and pet him or her while watching for small black flakes to fall onto the white surface.

How can you tell if it is really flea dirt?

Fleas eat blood. So digested blood is the primary ingredient in flea feces.

You can find it by separating the hair and looking at the skin. You can also use a flea comb. A flea comb is a fine-toothed comb that will often pull out any small objects such as fleas or flea dirt.

When you find flea dirt, place it on a moistened paper towel. If it is really flea dirt, it will make reddish or brown spots when it softens. This will help you differentiate flea dirt from regular dirt specks.

What is the significance of flea dirt on dogs?

If you find flea dirt, it means your dog has fleas. You may not see the fleas, as some dogs are very good at grooming and subsequently eating the fleas.

For more information on treating fleas, go to Flea Infestation in Dogs.

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