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Flea Dirt - What Is It and How to Get Rid of It

flea dirt

When most people think of fleas, they think of tiny little creatures that jump on your skin and make you itch. But did you know fleas also leave behind little black droppings on furniture and clothes?

It sounds gross, and that's because it is. (It's parasite poop!)

These droppings are flea dirt, and if you see any around your home, it's a sure sign that you have a flea problem.

What is flea dirt?

Flea dirt is the feces from adult fleas (again...gross). It's composed of digested blood from the fleas' host - your dog, cat, or other pet.

Flea dirt is only produced after the flea has been on your pet long enough to bite, consume, and digest its blood. It's important to check for flea dirt because it’s an early warning sign of fleas in your home.

What Does Flea Dirt Look Like?

The good news is that flea dirt isn’t difficult to notice. It looks like specks of black pepper on your furniture, carpets, and clothing.

If you suspect fleas, the easiest way to check is to take a damp white cloth or piece of paper and brush the infected area. If flea dirt is present, the little black fleck-like pieces will stain the cloth or paper in red. 

This redness appears because flea dirt is made of animal blood that’s not fully digested. So when it comes into contact with water, it breaks down and leaves the flea dirt stained in red.

Is flea dirt harmful?

Thankfully, flea dirt isn’t known to cause any human illnesses. Phew.

However (uh, oh), fleas themselves can carry diseases like bartonellosis, tapeworms, anemia, and others. This can be passed on to cats, dogs, and humans if fleas are ingested or an infected flea bites.

So, if flea dirt is present in your home, it’s best to take action immediately.

How do you get rid of flea dirt? 

Get The Fleas Off Your Pet

Start with eliminating the fleas from their host - your pet. Use flea shampoo for the type of pet you have and flea combs to remove fleas and flea dirt from their fur and skin. Your pet may need two or three rounds of shampooing to help remove flea dirt and fleas.

Clean Your Home

Then, deep clean your home. Vacuum your carpets, furniture, and bedding many times over. This is the most effective way to remove all flea feces, eggs, and larvae.

Be sure to throw away the vacuum bag once clean, so fleas and flea dirt don’t spread back around your home. Washing your pet's bedding in hot water can also help eliminate flea dirt.

Clean Yourself

Lastly, clean yourself. Showering and washing your clothes helps to remove fleas and flea dirt from your skin.

Once you’ve followed these steps, be sure to keep an eye out for new or remaining flea dirt.

How to prevent fleas and flea dirt going forward 

The best way to prevent fleas and flea dirt is to use flea control products on your pet year-round. These may include flea shampoos, collars, combs, sprays, or spot-on treatments that you can buy from pet stores or online.

Talk to your vet about the best flea control product for your pet, and follow their instructions.

It's never a good feeling to find flea dirt in your home, but if you take the proper steps, you can get rid of fleas and flea dirt for good! With a little elbow grease and flea control products, fleas can be nothing more than an unpleasant memory.

 

Resources:

https://fleascience.com/flea-encyclopedia/life-cycle-of-fleas/adult-fleas/what-is-flea-dirt/

https://www.cdc.gov/fleas/diseases.html

https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef602

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5746801/



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