Summer’s here, and if you have pets, it is time to worry about fleas. Once these pests are in your home, it is tough to get them under control, so prevention is the best defense. Which pets do you need to check, what are the symptoms and what do you do if you find them? Here is what you need to know.

What Pets Can Get Fleas?

Cats and dogs are the most likely carriers of fleas. Rabbits, hamsters, birds and other indoor pets have been known to pick up fleas brought in by other animals, but because of their activity patterns, it is rare. Reptiles and fish are not affected. Most fleas are species-specific. They can jump onto humans and other pets, but they can only thrive on the blood of their preferred host with a single glaring exception. Ctenochepalides felis—the cat flea—is the most common flea species in the United States, and it can survive on both dogs and cats, according to VCA Animal Hospital.

Symptoms of Infestation

If you have fleas inside then they probably came from outside. Pets that go outdoors bring them into your home, but fleas can also hitch a ride on humans, and eggs can be tracked in on shoes, making pets who stay indoors vulnerable as well. According to Sage Pest Control, symptoms of flea infestation include scratching frequently, restlessness, hair loss, and marked discomfort. Live fleas move quickly, and they can be challenging to find. If you suspect fleas but can’t see them, look for the excrement they leave behind in your pet’s fur. It looks like dry coffee grounds, and because it is made mostly of dried blood, it turns reddish-brown when wet.

Strategies for Removal

According to Hartz, one female flea can lay up to 2000 eggs in its six- to seven-week lifespan, so it is not enough to treat only the adults. The fastest way to control the problem is to treat both your pets and your home with insecticides that kill fleas at all life stages and then prevent future infestations with preventive treatments. Your veterinarian is the best source of advice for treating fleas on your pets. A pest control company can suggest ways to curb them in your home and yard.

When it comes to fleas, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. A flea infestation can be a real pain to take care of, but they’re easily preventable. Check your pets often, and focus on preventive treatment to stay flea-free.