What are Flea Control and Flea Bite Allergies?
Dogs who are bitten by fleas will experience an immediate reaction within minutes, or there can be a delayed response of a day or two. Although some dogs will have no tendency to itch when bitten, others will experience an intense pruritus, which can manifest itself over the entire body as multiple bites are endured. Flea control and elimination is the only way to relieve your dog from the problem of flea allergic dermatitis.A hypersensitivity to flea bites is a well documented dermatological problem seen by veterinarians. Canines can develop an allergic reaction to the bites from fleas, due to the saliva proteins that are injected into the skin.
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Symptoms of Flea Control and Flea Bite Allergies in Dogs
A flea bite allergy can quickly develop into an uncomfortable situation that will make your furry family member miserable. Not only that, secondary skin issues can arise. Seek counsel from your veterinarian if your pet has a flea bite allergy. She can help you eradicate the fleas from your pet and your home, thus making everyone happier.
- Severe itching (pruritus)
- Scratching and chewing
- Constant licking (can cause a brown stain on the fur)
- Broken fur or hair loss (alopecia)
- Reddening of the skin (erythema)
- Hyperpigmentation of the skin (becomes lighter or darker)
- Scabs and scaling
- Papules that can break and ooze
- Traumatic moist dermatitis (hot spots)
- Infection from bacteria and yeast accumulation
- Odor from the infection
- Visible fleas and flea feces (the feces look like black specks)
- Most commonly affected areas are lower back, top of tail, thighs, abdomen, neck, and ears
The dog flea is known as the ctenocephalides canis, but curiously, the ctenocephalides felis, or cat flea is the predominant one found on our dogs. Facts about the flea life cycle are listed below.
- The flea is the most common ectoparasite (lives outside the host) found on dogs
- The adult females lay 20 to 50 eggs per day, which hatch in 2 to 5 days
- Flea larvae feed on dried blood and flea excrement produced as the adult flea feeds on the host, which is your dog
- 75 percent humidity is needed for the flea larvae to survive and form a cocoon
- They prefer an environmental temperature of 70F to 90F to make the cocoon
- In cool temperatures, the larvae can survive in the cocoon for up to 12 months
- The adult flea will live 30 to 40 days on average on the host
Causes of Flea Control and Flea Bite Allergies in Dogs
The flea we find on our dogs will not only cause itching and scratching; it can cause a secondary problem in the form of the intestinal parasitic tapeworm. If your pet, ingests a flea as he grooms and scratches, he could develop the tapeworm infection. This is another very valid reason for eliminating these pests from your pet and home.
- The saliva that fleas leave as they bite has histamine-like compounds, enzymes, and amino acids that cause allergies and hypersensitivity
- Flea allergic dermatitis (FAD) is prevalent in summer and warm climates
- In the northern regions of North America, fleas can exist quite well in homes where people and animals coexist
- FAD is most commonly found in pets over the age of one-year-old
- Lesions you may see on your dog are not actual bites but a rash manifestation
- The frequency and duration of flea exposure can affect the dermatological reaction
Diagnosis of Flea Control and Flea Bite Allergies in Dogs
You may see the obvious signs of fleas and their dirt on your pet. Some dogs, who are proficient at grooming, may remove most of the fleas, making it difficult for you to see them.
Your veterinarian will use her expertise to diagnose the presence of fleas, and the very real possibility that your pet is allergic to them. Once she has combed the fur in the opposite direction of the growth pattern, she most likely will be able to show you fleas, or at the very least, flea feces. Flea feces, or dirt, is reddish black in color and when placed on a damp paper towel will turn reddish brown.
If fleas are obvious, then the further diagnosis of flea allergic dermatitis may be easily reached. Along with the clinical signs on the skin, and the reaction that your canine companion is having in the form of itching, allergy testing or serum testing of IgE (immunoglobulin antibody) could prove the suspicion.
Other dermatological and allergy related testing could be included, to rule out conditions like mange or food allergy.
Treatment of Flea Control and Flea Bite Allergies in Dogs
Prevention of further flea infestations is part of the treatment for flea bite allergies and skin reactions. First, to rid your pet of fleas, the veterinarian will prescribe a topical treatment (efficacy is usually 12 to 36 hours to kill all existing fleas), or oral treatment which has a rapid effect. Flea shampoo is sometimes recommended but does not have a residual effect. Do not use shampoo without asking the veterinarian, because you do not want to lessen the ability of the topical treatment to do its job.
Depending on the condition of your dog’s skin, anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, and antifungal medication may be prescribed. In serious circumstances of allergic reaction, corticosteroids work very well to reduce the intense itching. Due to possible side effects, this medication, despite the help it gives, should only be used on a short-term basis.
Recovery of Flea Control and Flea Bite Allergies in Dogs
Removing the flea problem from your dog, and concurrently from your home, will prevent recurrence of the infestation that caused your pet the itching and accompanying discomfort. For continual care as your canine family member recovers, antihistamines and skin conditioning products may be prescribed.
Of great importance to the recovery process is ridding your home of the flea problem. Your veterinary team can recommend insecticides to spray on areas of the home where flea larvae may be hiding, like furniture, cracks in the floor, baseboards, window sills and bedding. It may take up to 24 hours for the pesticide to kill the fleas, leaving them free to bite and lay eggs in the meantime. A second treatment within the week is needed, for certain.
Vacuum the entire house, wash all bedding (pet and human), and be sure to treat all animal family members for fleas accordingly. While you are attempting to rid the house and environment of fleas, you may have to use the topical and oral products on a repeated basis, as advised by your veterinarian, until you are comfortable that your home is free of fleas.