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Are Cat Fleas And Dog Fleas The Same? Cat Fleas VS Dog Fleas

Aah fleas. If you own a dog then you have probably had more experiences with these creepy crawlers than you would have loved to.

They wreak havoc everywhere leaving your dog constantly irritated and at risk of skin infections from all the scratching. The worst part is that no one is spared including you and your guests.

What we don’t realize about these pests is how many different types there are. In fact, there are up to 2000 recognized species of fleas on the planet affecting all sorts of animals.

The cat and dog fleas are two of the most commonly found in domestic settings. Despite sharing the name “flea”, these two varieties have a lot of differences.

Contrary to popular belief, the fleas that commonly attack cats are different from those that target dogs. They may be from the same genus but they are two distinct species. Cat fleas are scientifically known Ctenocephalides felis while dog fleas are the Ctenocephalides canis.

There are slight differences not only in their meal preference but also their behavior, and geographical distribution. We will go into all of these as well as all the tips and tricks you need to get rid of the pesky little bugs. But first, let us take a closer look at what dog fleas are and what makes them different from cat fleas.

What Are Dog Fleas?

Dog fleas are known as Ctenocephalides canis and are a specific type of flea that are known to prefer attacking dogs. However, they also feed from any other available animal including cats, racoons, and even human beings. Their bite causes irritation through the saliva and are commonly implicated in flea allergic dermatitis.

When it comes to appearance, it is almost impossible to distinguish a dog flea from a cat flea with the naked eye. This is because the differences are mainly microscopic. The dog fleas have a more rounded head which is best appreciated in the profile view. Another distinction that can be made under the microscope is the number of notches on the hind legs which in this case are 8.

In addition to physical appearance and meal preferences, dog fleas have a unique distribution on a global scale. They are very common in Europe and Africa and occur very rarely in North America. In the continents where they are prevalent, dog fleas attack both dogs and cats in almost equal measure. Appearances in North America are associated with breed imports in which case they mainly attack dogs. 

Dog fleas are known to transmit some diseases when they take their blood meal. The most common here is the dog tapeworm which is also known as Dipylidium caninum.

In addition to the contact dermatitis and overall irritation, this worm is more than enough motivation to get rid of the bugs in which case both chemical and natural methods are worth giving a try. The best part is that if you are not sure what you are dealing with, the methods will still be effective as dog flea treatments also kill cat fleas.

What Are Cat Fleas?

Cat fleas are known as Ctenocephalides felis and typically prefer to feed from cats. However, they have been known to attack more animals especially outdoor, wild mammals like opossums, raccoons, or foxes. They can also live on humans and dogs if they happen to be closer at the point of hatching from cocoons from their pupae stage.

Physically, they have the typical flea form with a sideways flattened body, long and powerful legs and clear to brown body. On a microscopic level, these fleas have a more elongated head with a sharper curve than that of the dog flea. Their hind legs also happen to have 6 notches and not 8 like the dog variety. 

In terms of distribution, cat fleas are most commonly found in North America. In fact most dogs in this part of the world that are affected by flea infestations carry this species and not the dog flea options. They are, however, also found in other continents including Europe although not in as many numbers as the dog fleas.

Cat fleas are also different from dog fleas in that they are notorious for spreading diseases. While the dog flea pretty much only carries flea tapeworms, cat fleas carry a variety of parasites and bacteria. These include Murine typhus, Rickettsia felis, Dipetalonema reconditum, Acanthocheilonemal reconditum, and the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease.

They also stand out in that they are rarely transferred so you can pet a cat with fleas. This is because although they can live on cat for 1 to 3 months, they die within days to two weeks of being off the host. 

Can Vacuuming Get Rid Of Fleas?

Fleas have a habit of hiding in warm, dark and moist places. They do this to protect themselves and also to mate and hide their eggs and cocoons. This means that no matter how much effort you put into eradicating the bugs, if you do not take care of their reserve cohorts then your dog will keep getting fleas.

What is probably one of the most effective ways of completely getting rid of fleas in your home is through vacuuming. This sucks up not only the adult fleas but different life stages including eggs and larval forms. For this, however, you need to invest in a powerful vacuum that will get even the sticky bugs off surfaces like your carpets and upholstery.

In this case, we recommend the Dyson V11 Torque Drive Cordless Vacuum Cleaner. It stands out on the market as a cordless option that does not compromise on power. In fact, it is two times more suction than most cordless vacuums out there. With one full charge, you will enjoy up to 60 minutes run time which is more than enough to get rid of bugs in a large home. It also has a fantastic filtration system that is ideal for trapping the tiny bugs.

Dyson V11 Torque Drive Cordless Vacuum Cleaner, Blue
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SPOTLIGHT: 9 Best Dyson Vacuum that we highly recommend. Read this before making that big investment.
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You could also try steaming to help completely get rid of the bugs. This is particularly useful when getting rid of eggs stuck on fabrics. The hot steam not only kills them but also makes it easy to remove them from the strands with a lot more ease. Try the PurSteam World’s Best Steamers for this. In addition to being light and easily portable, it heats up in 3 to 5 minutes for fast and convenient work. 

PurSteam World's Best Steamers Chemical-Free Cleaning PurSteam Handheld Pressurized Steam Cleaner with 9-Piece Accessory Set Purpose and Multi-Surface All Natural, Anthracite
  • 100% ALL-NATURAL STEAM CLEANING: Hot pressurized steam eliminates grease, grime, mold, stains, and bed bugs without harsh chemicals.

How Do I Get Rid Of Fleas In My House Fast?

In addition to vacuuming and steam cleaning, there is a lot more that you can do to get rid of the fleas hiding out in different nooks in your home from carpeting to corners and even your dog’s bed. Here are a few tips to help you get rid of fleas in your house.

Essential oil aromatherapy

Fleas do not like essential oil scents and this is one of your best weapons against them. Lavender and peppermint are particularly effective especially when used in aromatherapy preparations. For this, we recommend you try the ASAKUKI Essential Oil Diffuser with its 5-in-1 multifunctionality and convenient automation capabilities.

ASAKUKI 500ml Premium, Essential Oil Diffuser, 5 in 1 Ultrasonic Aromatherapy Fragrant Oil Humidifier Vaporizer, Timer and Auto-Off Safety Switch
  • 5-IN-1 AROMATHERAPY DEVICE: This ultrasonic essential oil diffuser is an amazing multifunction aromatherapy device unlike any other you've ever used. It features a large and easy to clean 500ml water...

Machine wash dog bedding and accessories

Whether your dog sleeps on your bed or alone, it is important to regularly launder their sheets. Fleas love to lay their eggs there so when they hatch they have their host easily accessible. Machine washing with warm water not only kills the bugs and their eggs but also removes them from the surfaces.

Spray flea repellants on upholstery

For this, you could use essential oils or commercial chemical preparations with insecticide and pesticide effects. You could also improvise using household items like apple cider vinegar or lemon.

Baking soda trick

You could sprinkle some baking soda onto your carpet, under-seat cushions, or corners in your home. This dries out the eggs and larva which minimizes the load of fleas in your home. With time, they will completely die out with no new generations to replace them.

Flea traps

These could be homemade or commercial although the latter work better and are less messy. A fantastic example here is that of the Victor Ultimate Flea Trap. It uses light and heat to attract from as far as 30 feet and uses glue discs to trap them. 

Victor M230A Ultimate Flea Trap - 6 Total Traps
  • Non-poisonous, odorless flea trap with protective Stay-Away Canopy cover

What Else Kills Fleas On Cats And Dogs Instantly?

A lot of methods we have discussed so far simply repel fleas or get rid of them from surfaces. In addition to instant flea killers like steam and insecticides, here are 4 other highly effective ways to get rid of fleas on dogs and cats.

[Good To Know] Want to know what other ways there are to get rid of fleas on your dogs and in your house? Do check out our compiled list of a WHOPPING 37 Ways to Naturally Prevent and Get Rid of Fleas in Dogs.
Learn more >

Diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth is known as one of the most powerful, yet non-toxic ways to kill fleas on cats and dogs. It works by drying fleas in all stages of life and therefore killing them. It also destroys the exoskeleton of adults which exposes them to the elements resulting in their death. Despite being so powerful, diatomaceous earth is actually very safe for animals so you do not have to worry about your pet ingesting it.


Clove extracts are highly potent and very effective for use in dealing with fleas on cats and dogs. The strong scent is very effective at repelling them. It also has a burning effect on eggs and larvae and can be used to kill them whether you spray or rub the essential oil extract on your pet. Just make sure to dilute it as it can be a little irritating for the dog or cat.


Cedarwood is easily the most effective essential oil when it comes to killing fleas instantly and not just repelling them. It can be a little harsh alone which is why it is best used in blends as is the case with Isabella’s Clearly Dogs Tips And Fleas Repellent. This powerful repellant contains cedarwood, peppermint, lavender, and lemongrass.

SPOTLIGHT: Wonder what essential oils can keep fleas on your dogs at bay and your house smelling fragrant? Check out these 12 extremely effective essential oils that can do these miracles!
Learn more by clicking here!

Flea shampoos

One of the best in this case is the Smiling Paws Pets Antibacterial & Antifungal Shampoo. It contains Chlorhexidine 2% and Ketoconazole 1% among many other flea repellent ingredients. In addition to killing the bugs in different stages, the chemicals prevent infection and promote healing of irritated skin.

Antibacterial & Antifungal Shampoo For Dogs & Cats – Contains Ketoconazole & Chlorhexidine - Dog Skin Yeast Infection Treatment - Effective Against Ringworm, Pyoderma, Bacteria & Fungus. 16oz
  • RELIVE PETS FROM COMMON SKIN ISSUES: YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE THIS SHAMPOO. Unique antifungal shampoo to treat and eliminate skin infections such as Yeast, Fungus, Bacteria, Mange, Ringworm, Hotspots &...
Wonder which is the best dog flea shampoo to get rid of the fleas on your dogs? Check out these 7 right here!

Related Questions

Do Fleas Prefer Cats Or Dogs? It depends on the specific type of flea. Cat fleas typically prefer to feed from cats while dog fleas predictably go for dogs. However, this does not mean that they cannot feed from any source. In fact both types of fleas have been known to attack other mammals they get into contact with whether it is human beings out outdoor wild animals. 

How Do You Tell If Fleas Are Dying? One way to tell is that you will notice their dead bodies on the floor and on surfaces like furniture. This is the case mainly if the infestation was heavy. They are tiny, brown, and hard and feel like coarse dirt to the touch. You may also notice that your dog suffers from less irritation and itchiness

Do Fleas Eventually Die Off? Fleas can live for 1 to 3 months and will eventually die off on their own. The problem is that they lay thousands of eggs in their lifetime. So even though they die your dog and your home in general will not be free of the nightmare until you get rid of the eggs and larvae hidden all over the house.

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