What are Saliva Allergies?
Unfortunately, fleas and ticks can be found almost everywhere in our environment. They are just waiting for your dog to walk close enough for them to catch a ride on him. While you may never have had a flea issue before, your dog can pick them up anywhere: out on walks, at the dog park, and even in your own yard. Both fleas and ticks can transmit diseases when they bite and severe infestations can lead to your dog becoming anemic. On top of all these health concerns, your companion may also be allergic to the saliva of the flea or tick; this adds a whole other range of health issues your dog can potentially suffer from. If your pet is diagnosed with an allergy to flea and/or tick saliva, there are ways you can prevent and treat the situation. While this condition is not life threatening, the recovery process can take a while.
Fleas and ticks are common external parasites dogs can be affected by. Not only do they take blood from your dog, but the saliva from their bite can lead to health issues. If you find ticks or fleas on your pet, talk to your veterinarian about the best way to treat and prevent them.
Book First Walk Free!
Symptoms of Saliva Allergies in Dogs
Saliva allergies in dogs can come from a number of sources. It can either be an allergy to the saliva itself, such as with flea saliva, or it can be something within the saliva your pet is allergic to. For example, if a second canine ate something your dog is allergic to and then licked your dog, he could develop signs of a contact allergy.
Symptoms of saliva allergy may include
- Small red bumps on the skin
- Bilateral fur loss
- Poor hair coat
- Flaky, dry skin
- Inflammation of the skin
- Secondary skin infection
All living animals produce saliva. Not only does saliva keep the mouth moist, it is the first step in the digestion process of the food the animal consumes. Saliva contains proteins to begin the breakdown of food before it is swallowed. It also protects the teeth, fights germs in the mouth, and helps to prevent gum disease. Without saliva, the digestion process would take much longer and overall mouth health would be terrible.
Causes of Saliva Allergies in Dogs
Saliva contains many proteins and is a major source of allergens. Flea saliva can cause complications in dogs that are sensitive to it. One bite from a flea can cause a major allergic reaction in your dog. It can lead to itching, hair loss, poor hair coat, and more. Fleas can also transmit diseases through their saliva posing a potential threat to your dog’s health.
Ticks are another common external parasite that can pose a threat to dogs. Not only do these parasites take a blood meal from your dog, but their saliva can transmit all sorts of diseases. Some dogs are more sensitive than others to ticks; remove a tick immediately to prevent further blood loss.
Diagnosis of Saliva Allergies in Dogs
When it comes to allergies to flea saliva, the symptoms are key. Distribution of lesions and areas of hair loss on your dog are important. Other types of allergies cause fur loss on one side only or lesions that develop everywhere on his body. With flea saliva allergies, lesions are in more specific areas with fur loss symmetrical on both sides of the body. There is also a flea antigen test the veterinarian can perform to see if your dog is allergic to the saliva.
As for an allergy to tick saliva, it is more a process of elimination. If a tick is found on your dog and there are absolutely no other possible causes for the symptoms your dog is suffering, it may be assumed your dog is extra sensitive to tick saliva.
Lab work will be performed to rule out other possible causes of your dog’s symptoms. Blood work may also be ordered to rule out other illnesses and to provide information on how his internal organs are functioning. A complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry panel are the two most basic tests that will provide the veterinarian with a lot of information. Depending on the results, more blood work tests may need to be done. For further evaluation of the kidneys, your veterinarian may also perform a urinalysis.
Treatment of Saliva Allergies in Dogs
If your dog is allergic to the saliva of fleas or ticks, the best way to treat this is prevention of infestions in the future. There are multiple brands of flea and tick preventatives that are useful. The different types of preventatives work in different ways. Some kill the flea or tick as soon as they land on your pet, some kill them only after they take a blood meal, some make the adults sterile, etc. Discuss with your veterinarian the best form of flea and tick preventative for your dog.
If your dog has itchy skin, the veterinarian may recommend a bath with a mild shampoo to offer him some relief. Some veterinarians will prescribe a medication to help with the itching your dog may be suffering from. This medication will help for a while, but in reality it is only masking the symptom, not curing it. If you do not remove the source of the itching, you will have to continue to give the prescription and possibly continuously increase the dose as time goes on.
Recovery of Saliva Allergies in Dogs
What many owners do not realize is that not only to they have to treat their dog for fleas, they also have to treat the surrounding environment, both inside and outside. It is necessary to treat the yard and inside your home, as well as bedding and furniture. It can take a long time to finally eliminate the fleas, but once you do, your dog will be much better off.
Some dogs that have an allergy to flea or tick saliva don’t grow out of it, but some do. If your dog does have an allergy to the saliva, it is best to keep him on a preventative that works for the both of you. This will potentially prevent more bites from the fleas or ticks, and therefore, no more reactions to their saliva.