Although many animals get itchy when they are bitten by a flea, some animals get extremely itchy, to the point where they have bleeding wounds on their backs. These animals have a flea allergy dermatitis – they react to flea bites more severely than other animals.
What does it look like?
Flea allergy dermatitis often looks like either a lot of little scabs, or a few larger scabs over the back of your pet. Usually they are right at the base of the tail. There is often a fair amount of hair loss in this area, and the skin is usually very red and inflamed.
How is flea allergy dermatitis identified?
Flea allergy dermatitis also includes fleas. Finding fleas themselves on your pet or flea dirt helps to confirm the diagnosis. Flea dirt is small black dandruff that you are able to see if you part the fur and look close to the skin. When this black dirt is removed from the animal, you can put it on white paper towel and add water. If it dissolves leaving red-brown marks then it is flea dirt. If it doesn’t leave a mark then it is regular ground dirt.
How is flea allergy dermatitis treated?
Flea allergy dermatitis often requires a multi-modal approach including antibiotics, anti-itch medications, as well as flea products. One of the most important things to remember is to treat the animal with a flea preventive product for at least 3 months to kill all the fleas that may hatch over that time.
How can I prevent flea allergy dermatitis?
It is often recommended to keep your pet on year round flea prevention if they have a flea allergy. It is much more comfortable for your pet and more cost effective for you to keep your pet on flea prevention than to need to see your vet multiple times a year to treat flea allergy dermatitis.
Don’t forget, flea season has started! If your pet still needs their prevention make sure to give us a call!
Yes, just like many of us humans, animals can also suffer from seasonal allergies. Just like humans, some dogs and cats will also get an allergic conjunctivitis, or red and irritated eyes from exposure to dusts and pollens. Rather than sneezing, most dogs show allergy symptoms through their skin and extensions of their skin including their ears and anal glands.
The most common allergy symptom is overall itchiness. Many dogs will get itchy all over. They will scratch their ears, necks, backs, chew their feet and down their legs. Their skin may appear red and inflamed - this is usually much easier to see on dogs with short coats or with light coloured fur. Depending on the severity of the itch, some dogs may also cause themselves infections by chewing too much!
Does your dog get ear infections? Ear infections are often a sign of an allergy. Usually they’ll start by scratching at their ears more or shaking their head a lot. This can progress to very red and inflamed ears with lots of discharge.
Many dogs with seasonal allergies will get a seasonal ear infection, while others will get year round ear infections. Some of these year round dogs are also always itchy and always chewing their feet, even in 3 feet of snow! These dogs often have a food allergy and a diet change may be in their future.
Ear infections in dogs are usually caused by either bacteria or yeast, or a combination of both bacteria and yeast. It is important for us to differentiate which it is so we can use the appropriate medication to resolve the infection. To prevent infections some dogs will need regular ear cleanings with pet ear cleaners.
Anal glands are scent glands that sit on either side of the anus. During a normal bowel movement, cats and dogs anal glands are expressed onto their feces as another form of scent marking.
If you notice your dog scooting their bum across the floor, or constantly licking at their hind end, they may have an anal gland issue. Some dogs can have ongoing issues with their anal glands and require assistance expressing them. Anal glands may just be difficult to express, but they can also become infected. In some cases, this is also a sign of an allergy.
If your dog has some or all of these symptoms and is becoming more uncomfortable as the warm weather picks up, make sure to book an appointment with your vet so we can help get them feeling more comfortable.
Why does my dog have pink feet?
Often times, dogs who lick their feet frequently will develop pink staining on their feet, or any other area they lick a lot. This staining occurs when porphyrins in the dog’s saliva oxidize (when they are in contact with oxygen), making the pink colour on their feet.
How do I get rid of it?
Since saliva staining is caused by the dog over licking their feet, we need to stop that licking to stop the fur from turning pink.
It is normal for dogs to groom and clean their feet, but a dog with allergies likely overgrooms and chews at their feet, between their paw pads, and even up their arm. Often times it looks like they are chewing a corn cob as they itch all the way up their leg or chew between their toes. If your dog is licking and chewing this much, you should see your vet so we can help get their itching under control.
The overgrooming and chewing of feet is a common sign of allergies in dogs. These allergies are often seasonal allergies, especially if it only starts at a certain time of year, likely when a certain type of pollen is around, then goes away the rest of the year. The staining on your dog’s feet goes away since they are not itchy so they stop chewing.
There are many options to help minimize the itch and discomfort for your pet and help prevent irritation to their paws from chewing on them. For many pets with seasonal allergies a short course of antihistamines may be enough, while others will require something a little stronger to keep them comfortable through the summer months.
If your dog suffers from allergies, book an appointment with your veterinarian so they can help you find the right treatment for your pet’s allergies.
Weekends, Holidays and After-hours we are available 24 hours daily 365 days a year at our location for local service by your veterinary team. Please call our office in case of emergency.
Please note - Weekend, Holiday and After-hour service is offered only to current clientele who have not transferred their files to another facility and whose animals are a patient of our practice that has been examined by one of our doctors in the past 24 months.
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Egan Fife Animal Hospital