What Do Dog Fleas Look Like to the Human Eye?

What Do Dog Fleas Look Like to the Human Eye

There’s one little creature on the planet that adores your dog as much as you do: the flea. If you’re curious to know what fleas look like on a dog’s body then below is a short video and some pictures… first up, here’s a description of what dog fleas look like to the human eye. 

To the human eye, dog fleas are very tiny, but you can see and identify them as they look dark-brown, reddish brown, or black, with an oval-shaped, shiny body. They also have hairs pointing backward on their bodies. 

Read as I reveal more insightful details about the appearance of dog fleas to the human eye, signs to watch out for if your dog has fleas, and much more.                

Dog fleas Identification: Here’s how dog fleas look like to the human eye

If your dog had to create a top five list of his enemies, fleas would take the number one spot. Here’s what dog fleas look like to the human eye (video).

More on the appearance of dog fleas

As tiny as they are, these little creatures can give even the toughest dog out there sleepless nights. There is nowhere fleas would rather live than on a dog, which makes a their body the dream home for fleas.   

And since dog fleas prefer to dine on their host’s blood, all they’ll do is move aimlessly from one fur spot to another, latch onto your dog’s skin, bite non-stop, suck blood, and mate. On repeat. 

Your dog can develop anemia as a result of heavy flea infestation.

Given how dangerous these parasites are, it’s best to know what fleas look like. That way, you will get your dog started on flea treatment as you realize they have a flea problem.

Dog fleas are undoubtedly tiny, but not microscopic. You can see fleas with the naked eye.

That means you can see dog fleas with your naked eye as you comb through your dog’s fur using a fine-toothed comb. Or even better, a flea comb (buy on Amazon).

These annoying creatures like to hide in the “dark” areas where light doesn’t reach that easily — think of your dog’s neck, belly, armpits, and between the legs.

It’s also worth noting that it’s easier to spot fleas on dogs with white or light brown coats than on those with black or dark brown coats. 

And while you may not see some parts of the flea clearly with the human eye (like the flea’s sharp, biting mouthpart), here are some of the most noticeable physical features of dog fleas:

  • They have a tiny, wingless body (around an eighth of an inch in length) that is somewhat oval. 
  • They are either dark brown, reddish-brown, light brown or completely black.
  • Their entire body has a glossy sheen. Dog fleas have oil-producing glands (epidermal glands) that give their bodies a shiny look. 
  • The length and size of their legs are different (they usually have six legs). Their back legs will appear longer and thicker than their front legs. They use these strong back legs to jump high and land on a dog’s body without straining.
  • Their whole body is covered with what looks like stiff, thick hairs pointing backward. These hairs help them hold onto the dog’s fur and skin. 

Sadly, you might fail to spot these features of dog fleas with the human eye as they are rarely still. These nasty invaders are ever jumping and crawling in the fur so fast, making it almost impossible to check them out.

But here’s a little trick you can try. 

Use a flea comb to trap a few fleas between the comb’s tiny spaces. Have a bowl of soapy water on standby (you can add your regular dish soap to the water) so that you quickly dip the trapped fleas before they jump off the comb. 

Dog fleas drown easily in soapy water. So, when they are dead, you can observe them closely with the naked human eye and see some of the features above.

Don’t have a flea comb at hand? Or is your dog’s coat too dark to notice the fleas? Don’t worry. There’s another sure way to confirm if your dog is under fleas attack.

Look out for flea dirt while combing through your dog’s fur, and have a wet cotton ball or kitchen paper towel with you. 

Flea dirt looks a little more like tiny black grains deposited randomly on in fur. This dirt is simply flea poop — made of the digested blood and other waste products. 

Flea dirt is dry and sits underneath your dog’s fur, so it’s easy to pick it up with a comb. And when you do, dab it on the wet cotton ball or kitchen towel to rehydrate it. 

If the dirt spreads out like a reddish-brown bloodstain, that’s a sign your dog has fleas. 

Can your dog give you fleas?

When your dog has fleas on their body, some of these tiny creatures will be present in places where your dog likes to rest. 

You risk getting flea bites since you often share your space with your dog. And as much as they will bite mercilessly, dog fleas can’t live on your body. They prefer hiding in crowded spots.

Dog fleas also lay eggs while on a dog’s body. 

Some eggs remain in the fur, waiting to hatch and torment your dog. Other eggs drop to the ground or fall on whatever your dog lies on — their blanket, your bed, the carpet, and couch.  

The eggs will hatch from these places and grow into adult fleas. And while there, they will also leave flea dirt. You will likely see flea dirt on your bed, among other places. 

Dogs infested with fleas show (and experience) the following signs:

  • A painful, itchy sensation on the flea-infested area of their body
  • Scratching and chewing on their body excessively
  • Red bumps and patches with missing hair
  • Excessive grooming

And as your dog is scratching and chewing their body severely, they may break their skin, leading to serious wounds. 

Your dog can’t help but scratch excessively because of how sharp a flea bite is. 

Did you know that a single dog flea bite up to 400 times daily? So if your dog has only five fleas, they’ll get bitten 2000 times in a day. Ouch!

Plus, a flea’s salivary glands often release an irritating substance that worsens the itchiness from the bite.  

What to do if your dog has dog fleas

If you’ve found evidence of fleas on your dog, consider speaking to your vet immediately. 

Remember, these ruthless creatures mate while underneath a dog’s fur. If your dog doesn’t start treatment earlier, the fleas will multiply with each passing day.

Your vet will likely recommend an effective over-the-counter topical medication, oral flea drug, or a flea shampoo (and direct you on how to use these treatment regimens correctly). 

But if your dog shows symptoms like lethargy, you should head to the vet. They will examine your dog and prescribe the best flea treatment medication. 

Also, make sure to do the following:

  • Speak to your vet about a flea prevention treatment plan to protect your dog from frequent flea infestation ordeals.
  • Vacuum your carpet, curtains, and furniture regularly and throw the vacuum bag (tie it up first) in a garbage bin outside.
  • Wash all your bedding, mats, throw rugs, and anything else your dog likes to lie on in hot, soapy water. Do the same with your dog’s bedding, toys, and collars. This will kill any existing adult fleas and eggs.
  • Consult your vet on a natural flea control spray that you can use on your yard or lawn.

Handy Hint: Here’s how to get rid of fleas on young puppies.


Are dog fleas visible to the eye?

Yes, that’s correct. Dog fleas are visible to the human eye.

Can dog fleas get on humans?

Yes, that’s right. Dog fleas can jump on humans and bite. But they can’t live on a human body. They will return to their preferred host — the dog.

What do fleas look like on bedding?

Fleas on beddings look like dark brown, black, or reddish-brown insects jumping from one spot to another. 

And even if you don’t see the fleas themselves, you will notice flea dirt — tiny stuff that look like black, dry grains. If you sprinkle a little water on the flea dirt and it turns into a reddish-brown blood stain, it means there are fleas on your bed.

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Dog flea picture in header from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceratophyllus_garei#/media/File:NHMUK010177285_The_ground_nesting_bird_flea_-_Ceratophyllus_Emmareus_garei_Rothschild,_1902.jpg

Marc Aaron

I write about the things we've learned about owning dogs, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips we've picked up along the way.

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