What Do Fleas, Flea Eggs, and Flea Bites Look Like?

What Do Fleas, Flea Eggs, and Flea Bites Look Like_
Growing up with a family dog, I never thought much about fleas.

My parents gave our dog monthly medication to prevent them from making a home in our dog’s fur, so I can’t remember a time when we had them at home.

When I got my first job at a pet resort, I learned so much more.

I had no idea that dogs were exposed to fleas so often, especially in community places like dog parks.

We had to constantly look for signs of fleas on dogs that weren’t on preventative medication, since fleas could still live in the grass where all the dogs hung out.

It opened my eyes to the complex reality of fleas, and I’m grateful for it.

Especially now that I have my own dog, I like to know everything I can to help keep her safe.

Here’s what I’ve learned about fleas, plus what their eggs and bites look like so you always know what to watch for.

What Do Flea Eggs Look Like

How to identify flea infestation magnifying glass to see eggs and larva

You’ll need one of these

There is good news and bad news for dog owners who want to know what flea eggs actually look like.

The good news is that they can be seen without having to put a slide under a microscope.

The bad news is that you’ll need magnifying glass.

Flea eggs are 0.5 mm in size, white, and sometimes even transparent[1].

They can be easily mistaken for some dandruff or even grains of salt.

They’re not sticky either, so when they’re laid in your dog’s fur, they can easily fall off and hatch in your carpet or furniture.

What Do Flea Larvae Look Like

What do fleas eggs larvae look like visual identification

Left: Adult
Right: Larva

After fleas hatch, they don’t look like tiny adult fleas.

They’re actually shaped like little worms, measuring about 2-5 mm long.

At this point, they’ll still be white and if you look under a microscope, you’ll see tons of tiny hairs.

What Do Fleas Look Like

Flea identification little black dots squirming around in fur on socks couch furniture

All of those little black dots are fleas!
Cropped version of a photo by Jeff Covey (CC BY-SA 2.0)

When I was younger, I got fleas and ticks confused.

When I pictured a dog having fleas, I imagined tons of little black bugs the size of ticks running around in their fur.

In reality, fleas are much tinier. It’s why many owners don’t even realize their dog has fleas.

Without close inspection, they blend in with their surroundings. That includes fur, carpets, and even fabrics.

They basically look like brown dots. They’re only 2.5 mm long, so they stay about the same size as the larvae.

If you got a good upclose look, they’d have six legs and no wings.

What Do Flea Bites Look Like

Since fleas are so small, it’s difficult to see the individual bites with the human eye unless they become particularly inflamed.

What do flea bites look like on dog human reddish itchy lumps

Bad flea bites on a human
Photo by Clawed (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Instead, the bites will result in symptoms like[2]:

  • Constant scratching
  • Chewing or biting at the skin
  • Red, irritated skin
  • Hair Loss
  • Scabs

Keep an eye out for any constant scratching, as that’s the most typical first sign of flea bites.

What Do Flea Nests Look Like

While some animals nest in a very obvious way, like birds, fleas are a little different.

They will choose one particular area on your dog to lay eggs, but they don’t build anything to lay them in.

Instead, flea nests will look like tiny black dots around a particular area of fur.

What Does Flea Dirt Look Like

flea dirt fecal matter larva on fur identify flea infestationFlea dirt can be easily mistaken for actual fleas.

The dirt looks like tiny specks of ground pepper, whereas fleas are black dots that move.

Try testing the specks out with a wet paper towel.

See if they move on the towel or stay still to tell the difference.

What to Do Now

If you’ve found fleas on your dog, what do you do now?

It depends on what you find.

Here are some quick and easy solutions for whatever you discover in your dog’s fur.

For Flea Eggs

Wash your dog with a flea killing shampoo and use a flea comb to carefully comb out all of their fur from the base of the hair.

You’ll also have to vacuum your home every day for a week and spray with a safe flea spray[3].vet's best nature's health care flea and tick home spray kills adults larvae eggs

For Flea Larvae

The same goes for flea larvae.

Wash your dog, go over them carefully with a flea comb, and do a major deep clean on your house.

The larvae can fall off just like eggs can.

For Fleas

There are two main ways to combat fleas.

The first is to be proactive and give your dog an anti-flea medication that’s prescribed by your vet.

The second method is to bathe your dog with flea killing shampoo and comb them with a flea comb every couple days until you can’t see anymore fleas.

For Flea Bites

Any noticeable, raised flea bites should be checked out by your vet[4].

They’ll help with medication and come up with a flea removal plan with you.

For Flea Nests

Flea shampoo and a flea comb will be your best friend when you want to remove flea nests.

flea comb for dogs remove adults larvae eggs dirt nests clean pet infestationWork carefully with the comb after washing to remove the nests around the base of your dog’s fur.

For Flea Dirt

The same goes for flea dirt.

A good bath will rinse off a lot of it, but a flea comb will help pick apart the dirt that may be stuck on fur.

Conclusion

Finding fleas, eggs, dirt, and nests on your dog is freaky.

I know if and when Maggie ever gets fleas, I’ll probably want to jump out of my skin when I find them.

The first thing you should always do when you see fleas is remain calm.

Your dog and your home will require some extra cleaning for the next few weeks, but it’s an easily solvable issue that isn’t a huge concern.

Make sure to call your vet with any questions about your dog’s flea condition if you’re not sure about what’s best for your dog.

FAQs

Are Flea Eggs Black or White?

Flea eggs are white and can even appear to be translucent in the right lighting.

Are Flea Eggs Visible?

Technically, yes.

Flea eggs are visible, but they’re extremely tiny.

They’re especially hard to spot if your dog has light or white fur.

Do Flea Eggs Look Like Dandruff?

Yes, flea eggs can be mistaken for dandruff sometimes because of their white color.

How Can You Tell a Flea Egg from Dandruff?

Flea eggs will stick to your dog’s skin or fur more than dandruff, which should brush off easily.

Resources

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0304401794900310
  2. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/flea-bites-on-dogs/
  3. https://www.thebugsquad.com/fleas/flea-eggs/
  4. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/flea-bites-on-dogs/
About the author

Emily Pierce

Emily Pierce is a self-published novelist, award winning short story writer, and freelancer. When she’s not writing, she enjoys baking and making clothes for dogs.