Your dog seems to be scratching more than normal. You find tiny specks of black dirt in your cat’s bedding. You start to wonder if your pet might have fleas. Here’s what to do if you suspect these nasty little blood-sucking pests have taken up residence on your pet:

Behavior. Watch your pet for unusual behavior, such as restlessness, scratching, licking, chewing or head shaking, all signs she might have fleas. Note: Your pet should scratch as much as you do in a day (it’s an old myth that it’s normal for them to scratch).

Fur. Run a fine-toothed flea comb through your pet’s fur. The comb’s teeth will catch fleas on your pet and pull them off. If you find any black specks, put them in a container of water. The specks will turn brownish-red if it’s flea dirt (adult flea blood and poop).

Base of tail, groin and “armpits.” These are warm areas where fleas love to hide. Turn your pet onto her back and examine her belly, groin and armpits – and also the base of her tail – for red, inflamed areas, bumps, hair loss and scabbing, all potentially caused by fleas biting your pet and sucking their blood.

Ears. Another warm spot where fleas love to hide is our pets’ ears. Again, look for signs of scratching, inflammation, specks of blood and flea dirt. Fleas also love to hang out on the back of our pet’s necks!

Bedding. You might also find flea dirt in their beds and on their blankets, or they could contain flea larvae, which hatch from eggs and lie dormant until they emerge as adult fleas – and jump onto your pet. To be safe, regularly wash your pet’s bedding in hot water to destroy fleas and their eggs, larvae and pupae.

If you find your pet has fleas, there are many pest control products you can buy to eliminate them by breaking their lifecycle, otherwise they’ll continue to reproduce. We like the new Natural Care line, which uses a unique blend of naturally sourced plant extracts (such as Peppermint Oil and Eugenol) to create a strong yet gentle defense for your pet, killing fleas, flea eggs and ticks on contact and repelling mosquitoes.

To learn more about fighting fleas indoors and out, read our post