For dogs, the most frequently seen skin disease is flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) – sometimes called flea bite hypersensitivity – and it is a huge problem. Sadly, it leads to many allergies and a reaction will see the immune system react and the antibodies will attempt to fight the infection or be sent in to deal with something that could normally be tolerated.
For many years, we have known the dangers of flea allergy and they all have a similar life cycle from egg, larva, pupa, and then adult flea. As soon as the adult flea lays their eggs, it will actually fall off the dog and allow the eggs to go through the natural process. Although they are known for biting, they cannot survive away from the dog so separating the two must be key when trying to resolve the problem.
Symptoms – How will you know whether your dog is suffering from flea allergy? First and foremost, they will start scratching more frequently just as we do with head lice and the like. Initially, you should give them the once over to assess for hair loss, red bumps, or itchy spots. Normally, the base of the tail is a popular spot for fleas as well as the stomach and groin so be thorough with your search. If you have suspicions, visit your vet as they can conduct full skin tests as well as specialized blood tests.
For best results, try to check using a flea comb because this will bring them from the surface and you can get deep within your dog’s coat. If you spot the symptoms above but no fleas, it could be a case of mites or even a bacterial skin disease. Sometimes, vets will treat for fleas regardless to eradicate the problem as they have similar solutions.
Treatment – Before we head into the treatment suggestions, we should state that prevention will always be better than a cure so complete regular checks with your dog. On the market, you will also find many options for adult fleas such as insecticides. As long as they are used on a spot your canine friend isn’t likely to lick the treatment off, it should work well. After this, oral ingestion of some products can work just as well and it removes the risk of them licking it away. Finally, we should also mention flea shampoos and these are effective as long as you are willing to maintain treatment for an extended period of time.
If you have an outdoor pet, flea control is incredibly difficult but the treatments we have mentioned could work in the short term. Of course, fleas are a unique problem because you have the eggs as well as the adult fleas to contend with so you will find products designed especially for the eggs too. At this point, we should note that fleas will bite humans if they are forced from your pet because they will look for a new home wherever that can be found.
If you have any concerns whatsoever, discuss your options with your vet as they will give recommendations. Not only should you consider effectiveness, you also need to think about safety to keep your dog healthy. If you’re reading this as a precaution, keeping your dog healthy is always the best and cheapest solution so ask your vet for good flea prevention products in addition to advice.