How to Help Pets with Flea Allergy Dermatitis

June 19, 2010

By Linda Cole

Responsible pet owners know how important it is to make sure their pets are treated for fleas. Unfortunately, some pets have an allergic reaction to a flea’s bite even with flea medication on them. Some reactions can be quite severe. I have a dog that has an allergic reaction to flea bites. Left untreated, a pet will whine and chew their skin raw, which isn’t good for them and can drive you and your pet crazy. My dog has flea allergy dermatitis, also called flea bite allergy.

The first and most important step in helping a pet who has an allergic reaction to fleas is to make sure they are treated with a quality flea control medication monthly. Start treatment at least one month before flea season starts and continue it until at least one month after flea season is over. Talk with your vet to determine which flea treatment would be best for your pet.

Fleas don’t actually live on our pets. Most of their life is spent lounging somewhere in the home. Some people assume that if they don’t see fleas on their pet, they don’t have a flea problem, but that’s simply not true. If you don’t find fleas on your pet at the time you inspect them, it doesn’t mean your pet or home is flea free. If it’s flea season and you have pets, a community of fleas could be hanging out in your home and yard, and using your pet as their own personal diner.

To help a pet who has flea allergy dermatitis, it’s important to treat the pet and the home at the same time and try to eliminate the little pests completely. The best way to control fleas in the home is to have a pest control service spray monthly during flea season; inside and outside. By having an effective flea control on the pet and with an aggressive attack on fleas around the home, you have a good chance of getting rid of the fleas.

Pets who suffer from flea allergy dermatitis are so sensitive that just one or two flea bites can cause them to chew on themselves constantly, and won’t stop even when their skin has become raw. You don’t have to have an infestation of fleas for your pet to be miserable. It’s not the flea bite itself that drives a dog or cat crazy, it’s the saliva of the flea that causes all the itching. Flea bite allergies are the most common type of allergy found in cats and dogs.

Dog Animated - no offerSigns of flea allergy dermatitis are constant scratching, chewing, licking and whining. Their skin may be red or even raw from constant scratching and chewing. You can feel bumps on their skin when you run your hand over the area they’ve been chewing on, especially along their back at the base of the tail and along the tail. You may notice an area where your pet scratched and chewed so much, they have a bare spot or thinning hair in the area. They can develop hot spots on their face or other parts of their body, and you are apt find flea debris in the area. The debris looks like little pieces of dried blood because that’s exactly what it is. Flea bite allergy can cause secondary infections if left untreated, so it’s up to us as responsible pet owners to make sure to tackle a flea problem aggressively and use all of the weapons available to us during flea season.

Keep your pet’s bedding clean. Vacuum regularly where your pet sleeps, along baseboards, and move furniture so you can vacuum under it. Remove couch and chair cushions and vacuum thoroughly underneath them. Dispose of the vacuum bag after each vacuuming and if your vacuum has no bag, dump the dirt out into a small trash bag and seal it before throwing it away. You don’t want any of your captured fleas to escape back into the home.

If your pet shows signs of having any adverse reaction to fleas even with flea medication on them, talk with your vet. They can recommend a flea control product that might work better for your pet and they can also advise you on other products you can use to help relieve their itching. You want to make sure to use flea control that kills adult fleas and has an insect growth regulator (IGR) which will kill immature fleas before they have a chance to mature into adults.

Flea allergy dermatitis can drive both you and your pet crazy. Start your fight against fleas before they have a chance to attack your pet or invade your home.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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  1. liz maietta says:

    My dog gets hot spots what dog food do recommend

  2. Edward says:

    I spray outside my home front back and sides and my neighbors yards on either side as well with bug b gone every 3 months…. With the invasive a vacuuming of carpeting and furniture along with front line on your pets the flea problem will go away… And after the 1st year…. Just spraying the yards you won’t have to buy front line any more and I have20 pets now with no

  3. Michelle t says:

    My dog is allergic to flea bites, and her skin looks sensitive. Would it be possible for her to be allergic to flea sprays also? I haven’t used sprays on her but wanted to ask before I tried.

  4. paul woollums says:

    Can anybody tell me what i can do to help my dog with fleas she is constantly biting, chewy,pulling her out, and crying and that breaks my heart…i have tried dawn i have tried the very expensive shampoos from her vet…i have tried frontline nothing has helped her…she doesnt want to go for walks or even go with me in my anymore….i see shes in pain and that hurts me because i dont know what else to do to help her and take her pain away…..can anybody please help me????

    1. Lisa says:

      I have found the only thing that works is a product called Adams flea powder you have to put it under cousins in between mattresses carpet floors everwhere! Wash all clothes and bag them for at least a week I even took all dresser drawers out and put powder down after 24 hours vacuum for my dogs I put a thick hair conditioner on them added a little water kept it on them for 20 minutes than bathed them twice a day to try to suffocate the fleas it worked and the powder lasts for a year killing fleas and eggs good luck

  5. Rygil says:

    Please help my dog is
    Basically chewing his skin off because of flea allergy I found him on the porch and his back was
    Bleeding badly

  6. key says:

    I have a black lab that has a coming and going of a red scabby “rash”. It was pretty bad over a year ago and the vet said, like all of them, it’s allergies.. either food, weather, or fleas, you need to figure out which. I used Dinovite for some time and noticed it has gone away a bit but now given the hot summer months we are fighting off fleas.. we are de-fleaing and i vacuum all the time. We have changed the food and still not sure what causes these scabs. They are only on his belly, they don’t seem to both him. I just want them to go away.
    thank you for your help!

  7. Terri Mindieta says:

    My cat gets the sores on her. If she gets bitten from a fleas she breaks out. I have ask what to treat her bites so they will clear up. Can’t seem to get an answer about this.

  8. rachel says:

    Does anyone know if there is a natural remedy for my shin tsu allergy to flea salvia? I’ve used dawn but doesn’t seem to help anymore. Please help us

    1. Cindy says:

      Dawn kills the fleas, not the allergy. Find a good soothing shampoo like oatmeal.

    2. LS says:

      Dawn is used in shelters for severe flea infestation. But only once. And they apply flea medication afyer. Buy using dawn you over dry your animals skin and he starts scratching from that too. Plus the fleas.
      If you really love your per lease use flea medication REGURALLY. It will help.I know from experience

  9. rita says:

    I took plain dawn washed the areas, then rubbed her down with generic baby diaper rash med sure helped!

    1. Cindy says:

      Thank you. It’s Saturday as I write this. So, the vet is closed. I can get the baby wipes and try that until The vet opens n Monday. What you suggest would be safe to use.

  10. Gina says:

    My Shih Tzu has been suffering from flea saliva for months now. The shots from the vet are just a temporary fix. After spending a lot of money on expensive dog shampoo…I bath her with Dawn dish washing liquid (inside secret from an experienced vet) making sure to use plain, unscented version….The same used to clean the oil off the wildlife after the oil spill. I wash her weekly and also use a oatmeal shampoo to soothe her skin. Let the shampoo sit on her skin at least 15mins, after I dry her….then put a thin sweater on her to stop her from scratching her hair off and damaging her skin. Hopes this helps others. My Zoe is my family!

  11. kay says:

    This is all great info, but my dog has developed bumps from being bitten and is itching one spot. I have cleaned and there are no fleas BUT she is still itching the rash. What do i do to make it less itchy for her? Ps she has been de flead.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I want to thank you for the info you have provided. I’ve been searching information on my dogs condition and I have noticed a pattern and you gave me the answer. My lil kodi is only about 10lbs and will develop big oozing sores all around his neck and ears. Even along his spine and tail. His face will itch so bad He’s constantly licking and rubbing til his paws are so raw it hurts him to walk. I’ve treated my home two month ago thinking they were gone. I have to say you are right. It only takes one. Thank you so much.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I want to thank you so much for the information that you provided in your articles. Now I know alot of different way to help my poor itching dog. I needed more than article to read and help me out, to my surprise all of the articles were very informative. I thank you and so does my dog. Thank you,thank you, thank you
    Barb Ward, Ann Arbor MI