As loving pet owners, we want our furry friends to be happy, healthy, and free from pests. However, one common problem that many dogs face is flea allergies. Flea allergies in dogs are caused when a dog’s immune system overreacts or is hypersensitive to the bite of a flea. The allergy is usually triggered by the proteins in the flea saliva that cause inflammation and itching in the dog’s skin. In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about flea allergies in dogs; from the cause, symptoms, and diagnosis to treatment and prevention.
What Is Flea Allergic Dermatitis In Dogs?
Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD) is a common skin disease that is caused by a dog’s immune system overreacting or being hypersensitive to flea bites. Fleas are the most common external parasite found on pet dogs and cats worldwide and are a common cause of itching in dogs. When fleas feed on a dog’s blood, they inject a small amount of saliva into the skin. The proteins in the flea saliva can cause intense itchiness, inflammation, and skin lesions in dogs that are hypersensitive or allergic to fleas. This inflammatory reaction can occur quickly, usually within 15 minutes of a flea bite, and can result in dermatitis or skin inflammation.
Signs Of Flea Allergy In Dogs
Flea allergies in dogs usually manifest in the form of excessive itching and scratching, hair loss, scabs on the skin, skin rashes or bumps, red patches of skin, and open sores. The hair loss usually starts around the base of the tail and back legs and can spread along the dog’s back towards its head. Dogs with flea allergies may also have live fleas or flea dirt visible on their skin. Flea allergy dermatitis can develop at any age but is more common in young dogs between the ages of 6 months and 5 years.
How Is Flea Allergy In Dogs Diagnosed?
To diagnose flea allergy in dogs, it is best to seek veterinary advice. The inflammation that results from a flea allergy can cause secondary infections of the skin that often require medical treatment. Your vet will be able to examine your dog’s skin and may perform skin scrapes or swabs to look for other parasites or bacterial skin diseases. Allergy tests performed through a blood test or intradermal allergy test may be needed for some dogs.
Can A Dog Have Flea Allergic Dermatitis Without Having Fleas?
Yes, dogs that have a severe allergy to flea saliva can have a skin flare-up with the bite of a single flea. They do not need to have fleas living on them or a large flea infestation to develop dermatitis. Flea bites may still be the cause of your dog’s skin problem, even if you haven’t seen any live fleas on them.
How Is Flea Allergy In Dogs Treated?
The treatment of flea allergies in dogs involves ridding your pet of fleas, preventing them from getting more flea bites, and treating resulting dermatitis and skin lesions. One of the best ways to control fleas is to consider treating the environment as well as the host. Every adult flea that lands on your dog and bites to feed will lay eggs, and to gain control of fleas, we need to consider treating the environment around the dog as well. This can be done through the use of a household spray or other products that kill flea eggs and larvae.
There are numerous flea treatments on the market that kill adult fleas, and these are often different in different countries. They may come in the form of spot-on treatments applied to your dog’s skin, oral products, or shampoos. Prescription preparations available from your vet are often more effective as they may contain stronger anti-parasite drugs or more modern drugs that kill fleas faster and more efficiently than products that are bought over the counter.
If your dog has severe inflammation of the skin or skin sores, then topical products like spot-on treatments may not be suitable. It is advised to seek veterinary advice to ensure you pick the best flea treatment for your dog.
It is important to remember that all animals in the house need to be treated for fleas to break the flea life cycle, even if the others don’t have a flea allergy. Assessment of your dog’s skin by a vet is also advised, as he or she may need additional treatment for skin irritation. Treatment may involve medicated shampoos, antihistamine medication to reduce itch, or anti-inflammatory medication such as steroids.
Lastly, a dog flea allergy home remedy is useful to help provide respite for hairy friends alongside veterinary treatments. Products applied to the skin to cool and soothe the skin can be beneficial. Even a cool bath can provide some relief, but it is important to remember that many flea products require the coat to stay dry for 48 hours.
In conclusion, flea allergies are a common problem in dogs that can cause intense itching and skin lesions. To avoid this problem, it is essential to seek veterinary advice, rids your pet of fleas, prevent them from getting more flea bites, and treat resulting dermatitis and skin lesions. Remember, all animals in the house need to be treated for fleas to break the flea life cycle. With proper care and attention, you can ensure that your pet remains happy, healthy, and free from pests.