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!
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