Flea Allergy Dermatitis

A white cat with orange markings scratches his ear

Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is a common skin condition impacting pets caused by an allergic reaction to flea bites. While fleas are the primary trigger, it’s not the flea itself that causes the allergic reaction but rather the saliva they inject into the skin while feeding.

Symptoms of Flea Allergy Dermatitis

When an animal with flea allergy dermatitis is bitten by a flea, their immune system overreacts to the flea saliva, leading to intense itching and inflammation. Symptoms of flea allergy dermatitis may include:

  • Intense itching – Dogs and cats affected by FAD will often scratch, bite, or lick their skin excessively, especially in the hindquarters, tail base, groin area, and neck.
  • Hair loss and excessive grooming – Due to excessive scratching, pets may develop patches of hair loss or thinning fur.
  • Redness and inflammation – The skin may become red, swollen, and inflamed, and it can develop sores or scabs due to scratching.
  • Secondary infections – Constant scratching can break the skin, making it vulnerable to bacterial infections, which can worsen the symptoms.

If you suspect your pet has flea allergy dermatitis, consult a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis. The vet will examine your pet’s skin, review their medical history, and may conduct tests to rule out other potential causes.

How to Treat Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Treatment for flea allergy dermatitis typically involves addressing the underlying flea infestation and managing the symptoms.

Flea control

Effective flea control is crucial. Your veterinarian may recommend flea preventives, such as topical treatments, oral medications, or collars, to kill fleas and prevent further infestations. Maintaining a comprehensive flea control program is important, which may involve treating your home and yard, washing bedding, and regular grooming. This helps to prevent future flea infestations and reduce the risk of recurrence of flea allergy dermatitis.

Treatment of Symptoms

Your vet may prescribe medications like antihistamines, corticosteroids, or immune-modulating drugs to alleviate itching and inflammation.

Caring for Itchy Skin

Regular bathing with soothing shampoos or topical treatments can help calm irritated skin. Your veterinarian may recommend specific products suitable for your pet’s condition.

Preventing secondary infections

If your pet’s skin has become infected, your vet may prescribe antibiotics or other medications to treat the secondary infections.