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Flea allergies in dogs

 by lucy on 27 Nov 2017 |
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All pets itch when they have fleas, but some dogs face severe allergic reactions to bites from these pests. From itchy, red bumps to hair loss and life-threatening infections, flea allergies can cause a host of worries for your canine companion. Fortunately, preventative flea treatments can stop allergic reactions and help keep Fido feeling his best.
 
Like people, dogs can be allergic to mold, pollen and dust mites. Pets with those allergies are likely to struggle with flea allergies, too. The allergy—formally known as flea allergy dermatitis—is a reaction of your dog’s immune system to fleas’ saliva when they bite. Infected pets will itch and gnaw at irritated areas, causing hair loss and open sores. A tell-tale sign your dog has flea allergy dermatitis is hair loss on the back half of his body, especially near the base of his tail, inner thigh, stomach and groin. Dogs with fleas will also have either visible bugs on their skin or “flea dirt” that can be readily seen. Because fleas can cause your dog to itch until he has open wounds, infested pets can also develop staph infections, which can prove fatal if they spread. Fleas don’t tend to cluster on animals’ feet or heads, so hair loss or itching in those areas is likely due to another problem.
 
The first—and most obvious—step towards treating your dog’s flea allergy is to rid him of fleas. A wide variety of flea control products available on the market kills the parasites through oral treatments, topical applications or long-lasting collars. Most flea medications are available in a quick, monthly dose, making curing and preventing infestations easier than ever. New flea treatments are developing constantly, so ask your veterinarian which medication will work best for your pet. Secondary infections from a flea allergy, such as bacterial or yeast infections, may require antibiotics or antifungal medication to heal. Some pets will also need anti-itch medication such as antihistamines or steroids during their recovery. In these cases, follow-up exams are often necessary to track progress of treatments. Your veterinarian can test your pet for flea allergies using blood tests or pinpricks, but the easiest way to cure the symptoms of a flea allergy is to eliminate the bugs.
 
Certain breeds such as terriers, labs and golden retrievers are more prone to flea allergies, so owners should be especially attentive when it comes to preventing fleas. If your pet starts licking, chewing, rubbing or rolling to try to relieve his itching, he may have a flea allergy. Look for red bumps and hair loss as further signs your pet needs help treating his symptoms— and remember, the easiest way to treat a flea allergy to is stop fleas before they strike with a preventative medication.

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