How do you get rid of flea rash on dogs? Find Out Here

I was told that my dog has flea allergy dermatitis, but I have never seen a flea on him. How can he have flea allergy dermatitis?

Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is a leading cause of allergic reactions in dogs. In an allergic reaction, the body’s immune system overreacts or is hypersensitive to a substance (called an antigen) that is normally harmless.

FAD is a common cause of itching in dogs. Adult fleas must bite a dog and obtain a blood meal in order to reproduce. Fleas typically do not remain on the dog except for the minutes to hours when they are feeding. This is why dog owners often do not see live fleas on their dog unless there is a severe flea infestation in their immediate environment. When fleas feed, they inject a small amount of saliva into the skin. It is the antigens or proteins in the saliva that cause an intensely itchy response to sensitive dogs.

Dogs with FAD do not have to be infested with fleas to be itchy. In fact, a single fleabite can cause itching for several days.

Are only certain dogs allergic to fleas?

FAD can develop at any age but most cases of FAD appear between age two and five in most dogs. It is important to note that dogs with other forms of allergies, such as inhaled allergies (e.g., pollens, molds, dust mites), tend to be highly sensitive to flea bites, and are therefore much more susceptible to FAD than dogs that do not have other allergic conditions.

Treating a Flea Infestation

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To treat flea bites on your dog, start by bathing your dog with a flea shampoo to kill any fleas that are on it. Afterwards, apply a flea and tick prevention medication, like Advantage, to keep fleas off your dog after bathing. Additionally, wash your dog’s bed, blankets, clothes, and fabric toys in the washing machine using a dog-safe detergent, and disinfect its bowls and plastic toys with hot water and dish soap. Then, talk to your vet about a monthly flea prevention medication, such as a topical treatment or flea collar, to help prevent flea bites in the future. For more advice from our Veterinary co-author, including how to identify flea bites on your dog, keep reading.

  • Carol Freeland “All the information given was a great help.”
  • How To Recognize & Treat Flea Bite Dermatitis