An allergy to fleas is a common occurrence in many dogs. This allergy is known as flea allergy dermatitis. Flea allergy dermatitis is caused by hypersensitivity to the saliva of fleas. The saliva passed into the skin when bitten causes a dog with a flea allergy to experience severe itching, swelling and redness, according to Foothills Animal Hospital. Flea allergy dermatitis can result in a dog developing hair loss, skin abrasions and painful sores if not properly treated.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Fine-tooth flea comb
- Flea shampoo
- Topical anti-itch cream
- Topical flea control treatment
- Vacuum cleaner
- Indoor and outdoor flea control spray
Examine your dog's fur by using a flea comb to expose and remove any fleas and look for signs of skin irritation. If the affected area is not severely infected and there are no open lesions present, you may safely treat flea allergy dermatitis at home.
Bathe your dog thoroughly with a flea shampoo using cool water only. Using warm or hot water further aggravates itching.
Apply a topical anti-itch cream such as cortisone to the affected area of the dog's skin to relieve itching and irritation. This also keeps your dog from scratching and biting the area, which could result in further trauma to the skin, according to Foothills Animal Hospital.
Use a topical flea control treatment to eliminate the existing flea infestation and prevent the dog from becoming reinfested by fleas.
Treating Flea Allergy Dermatitis
Clean your home thoroughly to remove all fleas. Wipe down all furniture and vacuum all carpets, rugs and furniture.
Wash your dog's bedding (and clothing, if applicable) in a washing machine with hot water.
Spray areas where your dog spends most of his time indoors (for instance, his dog bed or a couch) with indoor flea sprays designed to eliminate adult fleas and flea larvae before they hatch. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, it may be necessary to treat your home with a "fogger" or both types of spray (for adult fleas and for larvae) in cases of severe pet allergy or massive flea infestations. Make sure that carpets and rugs are treated, as well as cracks in floors, behind baseboards, under the edge of rugs, beneath furniture and inside closets.
Use an outdoor flea control spray on areas that your dog commonly spends time, including a doghouse, under a porch, the garage and any of his other lounging areas.
Preventing Flea Allergy Dermatitis Reinfestation
Tips and warnings
- Dispose of the vacuum bag after use to avoid transferring fleas back onto the carpet.
- Wear latex gloves when working with flea control products.
- Consider using a flea collar if your dog is prone to fleas near his head and neck.
- Take your dog to a veterinarian instead of treating her at home if she has open lesions or severely raw skin. These conditions can cause a secondary bacterial infection to develop. Your veterinarian may need to prescribe antibiotics, antihistamines or steroids to treat your dog's infection.
- Always read the directions on flea control products thoroughly before using them on your dog, in your home or around children.
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