Can Fleas Make Dogs Sick?

April 27, 2022

In a heartbeat, yes, fleas can make your dog sick. Fleas can also spread diseases, which can lead to various health concerns. Learn more about how fleas can make your dog sick and how you can help stop them.

Whether a cat or dog, your family pet is the perfect survival ground for these parasitic fleas. Fleas thrive on your pet because they live on your pet's blood and in the warmth of their coat. While sucking the blood from their victims, the released saliva is an allergen that causes severe itching and skin inflammation.

Not only that, but they spread quickly, which means that they can be hard to get rid of, especially if left untreated. Even though they can be found on your pet's bedding, on your home's carpet, and in your yard, they will survive months without eating and endure harsh conditions. Therefore, you must treat your pets regularly with medication and shampoos explicitly designed for fleas. If you need some great advice on which products to use, ask one of our leading veterinarians at Advanced Care Veterinary Hospital.

Pomeranian dog scratching it's ear

Flea Infestations Pose Serious Risks to Pets

These pesky fleas can cause several health problems. One problem, flea allergy dermatitis, can trigger an immune response; other health concerns are tapeworms, anemia, and bartonellosis. These health problems definitely come with symptoms such as:

  • Ear infections
  • Flea dirt on dog bedding
  • Excessive scratching, itching, biting, licking
  • Hair loss
  • Abnormal red patches of skin
  • Yeast and bacterial infections
  • Skin infections
  • Skin sores
brown dog scratching itself

Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD)

Dermatitis is the most common skin disease in dogs. Your pet's immune system responds to the flea's saliva, which contains enzymes, peptides, and amino acids, causing skin irritation and itchiness. If you've ever slapped a flea off your leg or scratched a flea bite until it's red, you know a tiny bit about how your pet is feeling. Just think, tons of fleas are attacking your pet. How irritated would you be? Other symptoms of FAD are intense skin irritation, itchiness, hair loss, and skin infections.

vet checking dog's teeth


Flea bites also cause anemia, which means that the fleas are sucking the blood right out of your pet. It's extremely dangerous once your pet's platelet count falls below a specific range. If left untreated, you are putting your pet's life at risk.

Puppy itching paw with teeth


When your pet is biting and licking, fighting for relief, they can swallow fleas. Yes, that's as bad as it sounds because these fleas may be infected with tapeworm eggs. Tapeworm eggs are flea larvae. This larva is carried through the blood and hook to the stomach walls, absorbing nutrients as they move through your pet's digestive tract. This may result in weight loss and nutritional deficiencies.

Sick Small Labrador Mixed Puppy


The Bartonella bacteria causes bartonellosis. Fleas transmit this bacterium, but sandflies, lice, and ticks can also transmit it. Bartonellosis can attack multiple areas of your dog's body, including the digestive, cardiovascular, skeletal, and neurological systems. It causes several symptoms like fever, nausea or loss of appetite, irregular heartbeat, vomiting, diarrhea, joint pain, or altered brain functions. The fact that dogs may not show any clinical signs of being infected makes it that much scarier.

Why Choose Advanced Care Veterinary Hospital?

As a leading provider of modern pain management solutions for pets, Advanced Care Veterinary Hospital offers many alternative therapies for dogs, including massage, laser therapy, chiropractic care, and acupuncture. While each of these treatments has its own benefits, not all dogs are good candidates for the. The Advanced Care Veterinary Hospital team is always available to answer any question you might have about acupuncture. To learn more, contact us today or call us to get started.