All animals with fur are susceptible to flea infestation. Fleas are a major cause for many dog health problems that aggravate due to allergic reactions caused by these pests. Fleas are similar to the human lice that breed in human hair. Fleas that attack dogs are also the same for cats. These fleas are ectoparasite organisms, that release a toxic chemical through their saliva. When this saliva comes in contact with the skin after feeding on the blood of the host animal, it leads to pets suffering from flea dermatitis. This is a skin disease which causes the pet's skin to itch and burn, leads to reddening of the skin, boils with or without pus, loss of hair, and scaly patches of skin (scabs) with no hair on them.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis in Dogs
Fleas and ticks attack dogs during summers and fall months. When it's cold the fleas use the dog as its host and inhabit the fur, which acts as a suitable micro-environment for them. It is very difficult to see them, as they are quick to hide and tiny. They thrive on humidity, feed on blood, and lay their eggs on the hair, which falls off when the animal scratches its fur. This causes the eggs to stick to an external habitat, such as on humans. Humidity is the reason why these fleas infest largely around the dog's romp, or under the tail, on the belly, and near the ears.
These dog fleas are often the carriers of tapeworms and the plague causing bacterium; which leads to disastrous consequences for pet dogs and cats. Most of these pets if not treated on time contract skin scabs and often succumb and die, due to tapeworm infections. Some dogs suffer from severe flea allergy and are hypersensitive to even a single bite, making the diagnosis for flea dermatitis allergy even more difficult. Constant itching makes the pet owner feel that the dog is simply hypersensitive to one odd ticks and often ignores the signs; thereby failing to get the dog treated for dog worms and flea allergy on time.
Flea Dermatitis in Cats
Cats are known for keeping themselves clean by constant grooming, but often cat fleas affects them too. Extremely furry and older cats which are no longer strong enough to look after their hygiene tend to fall prey to this form of dermatitis. Cat health deteriorates when they are too hypersensitive and allergic to fleas, that literally drives them up the wall with irritation. Cat behavior changes drastically when it starts to scratch, lick and bite themselves on the effected areas and everything else around them in frustration!
Excessive scratching sometimes leads to self induced Alopecia or small bald patches of skin with absolutely no hair at all. The symptoms in cats is by far the same as those that occur in dogs. The scabs on the cat's skin can be of two types, either flea bite dermatitis or the 'Military dermatitis'. The symptoms of the Military dermatitis are the tiny purplish-red millet sized scabs that appear. Ear mites are also highly responsible for allergies in cats.
Though these scabs are purely an indication of food or medication allergy and not related to fleas. On the other hand, allergy caused by fleas can be distinctly seen around the mid line of the cat's back and the neck and is also indicative of possible cat worms other than tapeworms. Since it's almost impossible to give your cat a bath, the other alternative would be anti flea medications and injections.
- Hair Loss
- Severe scratching and scratch wounds
- Scabs or crust formation on the skin
- Dark skin patches
- Loss of appetite or eating excessively and vomiting as a result
- Upset stomach on a regular basis
- Showing anger, inactivity, and irritation by whining often
- Oozing boils
Treatment of this allergy among pets must start with the basic step of pet care such as keeping them clean. Give your pet regular baths at least once in a few weeks with disinfectants and flea killing products, this will kill the flea eggs, and all the female fleas so that they cannot lay more eggs. The environment and surrounding areas around the dog or cat must be cleansed and disinfected as well so as to kill all sorts of fleas from reoccurring in the future.
The veterinarian will set up an anti-allergic regimen for your pet that will include you having to wash him with specific medicated shampoos as well as oral consumption of antihistamines, antibiotics, fatty acid supplements or if need be. Administration of steroid injections for the critically ill dogs and cats, and the use of flue allergy shots. Getting your pet checked by veterinarians, will help find out what exactly is the pet allergic to, as it could be some kinds of dog or cat foods as well.
It hurts to see your adorable pet suffering, it honestly does. The best solution would be to avoid the chances of flea allergy dermatitis from ever occurring. You can easily do that by keeping your pet's hygiene in mind and giving it regular baths. How often should you wash your dog, should also be considered as you do not want the animal to fall sick. It's also an opportunity for you to take time out of your work schedule and bond with your dog. I'm sure you both would really enjoy it! Nonetheless, if the allergy does occur then maybe it's an indication that your dog is allergic to fleas, you should then get him checked by your veterinarian and follow his advice diligently.