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What are the other Small Black Bugs that might be on your Dog (besides Fleas)?

Many dog owners see small black bugs moving on the dog’s skin. This can be frustrating for both the dog and the owners, as it clearly indicates that the dog isn’t clean. If you see such bugs moving on your dog’s skin, they are probably fleas.

Fleas are nasty parasites that are seen by most owners on their dog’s skin. They not only feel disgusting but are also the cause of many diseases. Fleas cause serious skin conditions on the dog, and these diseases are often transmitted to the owners and other family members. Therefore, it is very important to eradicate them.

However, it is likely to happen that those small bugs are not fleas, although they look like fleas. The purpose of this article is to tell you the difference between fleas and other little bugs that tend to look like them.

Why are fleas harmful to the dog?

Fleas are small, wingless parasites that usually measure 2 to 8mm in length. They are so little that you need to observe the dog’s skin to find them.

Adult fleas can fly up to 30cm in the air, causing them to transmit diseases to the dog as well as humans. These insects leave itchy bites on the skin, which causes irritation and severe redness. Fleas are known to spread diseases, the most common being the Black Death of the 14th century.

Scientific trials also claim that fleas can cause deadly diseases in humans and animals. Therefore, eliminating them is very important.

What other bugs look like fleas?

Unfortunately, identifying fleas is not easy, as they have so many lookalikes. Some insects are often mistaken for fleas. Let’s find out about these insects and know how you can differentiate between them.

·        Flea beetles:

Flea beetles are similar to fleas in appearance, but these insects are found hopping on plants and grass instead of dog coats.

Flea beetles are commonly mistaken as fleas because they range in colors from dark grey to brown, just like fleas. Also, their jumping ability is the same as fleas, due to which owners think they are fleas.

However, their only difference is their habitat. Fleas inhabit the dog’s coat and skin, while flea beetles are found on plants. If you see fleas in your garden, there are chances they might be fleas beetle.

Also, the flea beetles don’t bite humans or dogs if they inhabit them. They live on plants, and they will only chomp holes in the leaves and stems.

·        Lice:

Dog lice are small and wingless insects that live in the hair and fur of animals. They crawl slowly on the dog’s skin and can be seen with the naked eye. These lice are similar to those that inhabit humans. Lice can be differentiated from fleas because they are yellow to medium brown.

Two types of lice live on the dog’s skin:

·         Sucking lice have a sharp pointed mouth and need blood to survive. They suck the dog’s blood from its skin and leaves redness and severe irritation, which can be unbearable for the dog.

·         Chewing lice also live on the skin surface and eat debris and surface secretions. These lice are commonly found in dogs and cause itching, pain, and hair loss.

Both these lice are harmful to the dog’s skin. They can be transmitted from one dog to the other; however, they are not transmissible to humans. Your vet can provide you with the best treatment to remove dog lice.

·        Mites:

Mites are a common health concern for dog owners because these parasites can cause inflammation and severe allergic reactions on the dog’s skin. The common health conditions caused by mites are:

·         Demodectic mange

·         Sarcoptic mange

·         Trombiculosis

Some mites, called eat mites, specifically colonize in the ear and cause severe discomfort, so its treatment is necessary.

Demodectic mange is a very serious condition characterized by lesions, itching, sore areas, crusting, and darkening of affected areas.

Sarcoptic mange can also be transmitted to humans and other animals in the house. It is highly contagious and can become fatal if left untreated. It causes discomfort, itching, redness, and constant scratching.

·        Springtails:

Springtails are tiny insects and are called so because of their ability to jump long distances. These insects inhabit moist areas, where they can feed on the soil fungus.

They are also dark brown and confused with fleas due to their hopping ability. However, they can be differentiated by the fact that springtails don’t bite or cause allergic reactions like fleas. Their habitat is soil, so they are completely harmless to humans and dogs.

·        Ticks:

Several types of ticks can inhabit dogs, including dog ticks, hedgehog ticks, and sheep ticks. These parasites live on dogs and feed by sucking their blood. It can result in severe irritation and redness in the area. Ticks are small, but they can swell up to pea size when they suck blood, becoming visible with the naked eye.

The most harmful effect of ticks on dogs is that they can be easily transmitted to humans and cause the same redness and allergy on their skin.


Fleas are the biggest nightmare of every dog owner. They can cause severe allergic reactions, itching, and soreness in the affected area. However, not every insect is a flea. Some other insects that look like fleas are mites, ticks, springtails, and lice. Some of these are extremely harmful as they can also be transmitted to humans, while others are nothing to be worried about! If you spot a dangerous bug on the dog’s skin, you should immediately seek veterinary help to avoid worsening the infection.

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