What do fleas look like? If you've never seen one before, you'd be forgiven for asking that question, and even if you have, I bet you've never seen one in such detail as the photo shown below!
Dog fleas are tiny wingless parasites that feed on the blood of your dog however, they can also feed on humans!
This close up of a dog flea looks like something out of a horror movie; he's a scary little bloodsucker!
Just look at those hairy little legs. Who would have thought their legs would be hairy?
And what's that mouth all about?
This is what a dog flea looks like - yuk!
You certainly don't want them crawling through your Cocker Spaniel's coat, never mind using your sofa or your carpets as their playground!
So, what do fleas look like? Take a good look at this close up of one of these blood-sucking parasites...pretty scary, huh?
The above photo of a dog flea is magnified quite a lot so that you can see the detail.
In reality, adult dog fleas are really tiny. They're between 1 to 4 mm long and are black or dark brown, although after feeding on a dog's blood, they swell up and turn a darker reddish-brown.
You won't be able to see this as these parasites are really tiny. They can be seen by the naked eye, but you won't be able to see much detail, if at all.
The flea's body is compressed at each side, making it very thin and flat-looking.
If you look closely, you'll see hair-like bristles on the flea's body and legs. It's these bristles (and their flat, streamlined body shape) that help the dog flea to travel through your Cocker's coat so easily and quickly.
Dog fleas have piercing, sucking mouth-parts with sword-shaped jaws that help break through the skin, allowing the flea to feed on a dog's blood.
Their saliva contains an anticoagulant enzyme that softens the host's skin (dog or human!) to allow the flea to penetrate the skin easily and begin to feed.
This enzyme can cause allergic reactions such as lumps, redness, and itching of the skin.
Usually, the first sign that your dog has fleas will be excessive, continuous scratching, biting his skin, and nibbling at his fur.
Dog fleas may be wingless insects, but their sturdy back legs are relatively large, which helps the flea to jump distances of up to 35 cm.
That's amazing, considering its size!
Fleas don't need your Cocker Spaniel to travel around your home all they need to do is jump to it!
They're fast and can sometimes jump too quickly for the human eye to follow, but if you do manage to catch one, their polished, shiny bodies can withstand great pressure making them hard to squash with your fingers, even if you are brave enough!
You can, however, usually break the shell-like body by squashing them between your thumbnails. Although getting the flea into position is not as easy as it sounds, it can be done. I know, as I've mastered this technique, although the occasional one may escape.
Don't forget to wash your hands with antibacterial hand-wash after handling any type of parasite.
I hope I've answered your question ("What do fleas look like?") and you are now able to identify a dog flea, should your Cocker Spaniel inadvertently bring home some of these unwelcome guests.
If you check your Cocker Spaniel as often as you have time and you use a suitable flea treatment to deter them from hitch-hiking a ride on your dog, you should be able to keep him clear of dog fleas all year round.
Just for the record, there's a distinct difference between a dog flea and a dog tick; they are two entirely different parasites. Follow the link if you'd like to learn about dog ticks and how to manage them.