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Flea Allergy Dermatitis

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Flea Infestation

Protecting your pet from fleas and flea allergy

Fleas feed on pet’s blood and they represent a year-round problem. Controlling fleas is important for the health of our pets, especially when they are likely to suffer from allergic skin diseases. Flea allergy dermatitis is one of the most frequent causes of chronic itching in pets.

Without adequate treatment, a flea allergy is responsible for a degradation of the skin and hair condition. Then, skin infections eventually develop on the lesions induced by the pet’s claws or teeth. 

Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) 

Because of repeated flea bites, some pets become sensitized to proteins contained in flea saliva. When fleas trigger an allergic dermatitis (FAD), animal's itching is far greater than the normal local irritation caused by parasites.

At first, licking or scratching simply causes local inflammation but very quickly, the hair gets damaged and falls, revealing nude skin, especially in the dorso-lumbar region in dogs. The pruritus can become so violent that the pet scratches to the point of self-harming. The most affected individuals can spend several hours a day scratching and their sleep is eventually disturbed.

Canine atopic dermatitis (CAD) 

CAD is an underlying skin allergy in pets. The immune system of atopic animals overreacts to one or more elements of the environment: pollen but also tissues, food or mites. This disease has a genetic origin and in general, the problem appears early in the animal's life. Dogs suffering from atopic dermatitis are moreover more prone to develop flea allergy as well.

As it is the case in FAD, the major clinical sign is itching but the inflammation usually develops around the face, ears, feet and any folds in the skin. External otitis is frequent.

Fleas are everywhere

A female flea lays around 50 eggs a day and one flea can become 1,000 in just 21 days! Only 5% of fleas are the adults that we see in pet hair: eggs are scattered around our homes, larvae burrow deep into carpets and underneath floor boards, and pupae live in their cocoons, from which adult fleas hatch.

They can stay in cracks and crevices for up to 6 months, only hatching when conditions are right, so a year-round prevention treatment is recommended. 

Prevention must be specific

For an allergic pet, buying an insecticide is not sufficient. Veterinary advice is necessary because some flea repellents are more interesting/efficient than others: in addition to the insecticide effect, the product must block insects from feeding and it must spread very quickly throughout the animal's body.

 

Treating a dog or cat against fleas is useless if recontamination is possible from other animals that maintain high parasitic pressure in the environment. Daily vacuuming of the environment will be recommended, as well as the use of growth regulators, which inhibit flea reproduction, so as to support the effectiveness of treatment. This may be very important when several animals live under the same roof. Remember to treat all your pets simultaneously, and groom regularly to identify the extent of infestation.

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