Did you know that an excessive number of fleas on a dog or cat can not only be a nuisance, but it can also be deadly?  Many fleas can mean a dangerous amount of blood loss in some pets.  Flea anemia can be a potentially life-threatening problem for certain kinds of at-risk pets.

Here’s what you need to know, from the vets at the Veterinary Partner website.

Which animals are most at risk for flea anemia?

  • Very young kittens being raised outdoors, or being raised indoors by a mother cat who goes outside. “Flea anemia is probably the number one cause of death in open-household kittens,” says one veterinarian.
  • Elderly cats who go outdoors.
  • Outdoor puppies.

Vets advise pet owners to do more than just check for visible fleas.  Use a flea comb to check for the black specks known as flea dirt.  Flea dirt is actually your pet’s blood that has been excreted by the fleas.

How do you check your pet for signs of flea anemia?

  • Check your pet’s mouth for a gum color that is paler than normal.
  • In severe cases, your pet will be cold and listless.
  • Some pets will eat dirt or pebbles when they are iron deficient.

How do you prevent flea anemia?

  • Keep pets indoors, especially if they are very young, very old, or have health issues.
  • Make flea combing a regular part of your pet care routine.
  • Use vet-recommended flea control products.

How do vets treat flea anemia?

  • Your vet will perform blood tests to check for anemia.
  • Blood transfusions may be necessary if the numbers are very low.
  • Your vet will determine what the safest form of flea removal is for your pet. Treatment could include baths and topical and oral flea control products.
  • After treatment, your vet may give you vitamin and iron supplements for home use. Be sure to keep the pet indoors and keep your home free of fleas.

Make sure to follow all dosage guidelines when using flea and tick medications, and never give canine flea treatments to cats.  Read more about this in our blog post HERE.


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