Dog Flea Allergy

All About Dog Flea Allergy

            Fleas are the bane of a dog’s existence, but beyond the normal itching that the pests cause for the dog, flea allergy dermatitis added to that itchiness can make the poor canine miserable.  Though the condition is seasonal, the discomfort that it causes will seem interminable.  

Fleas are tiny parasites, dependent upon the blood of animals and humans alike to survive and breed.  Using piercing mouth parts, they are able to bite through the skin of pets and then use their sucking mouth parts to extract blood from their host.  Insatiable appetites keep the fleas, especially females, feeding upon their host continually.  As they bite, a chemical within the saliva from their mouths keeps the blood flowing freely so the pest is able to suck the blood to their heart’s content.  This chemical is the reason that the bites of the flea are so irritating to the victim.  Mild irritation will result in perhaps reddened areas where the bites occur; a higher sensitivity to the flea bites can result in incessant itching. 

            In some cases, it is more than the itching that aggravates the dog.  Flea allergy dermatitis, or FAD, is the result of a heightened reaction to the flea bites, occurring in a large number of dogs.  It is actually the most common allergic disorder among canines.  The sensation produced when the saliva elements are deposited in the skin can be so intense that dogs will scratch until the skin is broken in their attempts to relieve it.  The use of the dog’s claws and teeth at these irritating bites gradually causes hair loss in the irritated areas, as well as abrasions of the skin.   

Once the skin is broken from the frantic scratching and biting, there is a greater opportunity for your dog to develop an infection from bacteria entering into the system.  This threat can place the dog at an even greater risk for more discomfort and illness.  Often, the most affected area on the dog will be around the rump, an area in front and at the base of the tail.  When visible signs of distress appear in this area on your dog, flea allergy should be the first condition suspected.  

            The first step in addressing this problem will be to place the dog in a flea free area.  This may prove to be difficult, but will be a crucial step in overcoming the disorder.  Second will be the elimination of the fleas from the dog itself.  Your veterinarian will be able to offer the best advice on which treatment will be most effective for your particular dog.  There are a number of products that are excellent at killing fleas.  Often, killing the adult fleas will be the task first completed, followed by a preparation that prevents immature stages of fleas from developing into adults.  In addition to treating the dog, the entire habitat of the dog will need to be treated.  Inside the home, the yard and especially the dog’s sleeping area must be treated with products that both kill the adults and prohibits development of younger fleas.  All other pets in the home will need to be treated as well.

Certain times of the year present more of a risk as dog flea allergy season.  Summer and autumn are prime climates for flea breeding, so it is imperative to protect your pet during these times in particular.  Flea collars, oral medications, topical medications and medicated baths can keep your dog from flea infestation at any time of the year. 

            Fleas are not simply a nuisance; they can present a health risk for your pet when an allergy develops.  Keeping your pet flea free will help to keep them healthy as well.