Flea Allergy Dermatitis in Dogs

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Detecting signs of flea allergy dermatitis in dogs.

While all dogs scratch themselves from time to time, prolonged itching and missing patches of fur or hair can be signs of something a bit more serious: flea allergy dermatitis. 

What Is Flea Allergy Dermatitis? 

Also known as flea bite hypersensitivity, this condition — the most common skin disease in dogs — occurs when your dog suffers an allergic reaction to flea saliva introduced from flea bites. 

What Are the Symptoms of Flea Allergy Dermatitis?

Flea allergy dermatitis causes a number of symptoms, ranging from uncomfortable to more serious:

  • Red skin
  • Missing patches of fur or hair
  • Repeated scratching, rubbing or biting of the skin
  • “Hot spots” or infected sores, usually located on the dog’s legs, hind end and tail

If your dog is showing these symptoms, the easiest way to determine whether the itching is flea-related is to go through your dog’s coat with a flea comb. Fleas are good at hiding, so also look at your dog’s skin for black specks that could be flea droppings. However, it doesn’t take a full-blown infestation to cause flea allergy dermatitis — just a few biting fleas can be enough to trigger flea allergy dermatitis in highly sensitive dogs.

What Is the Treatment for Flea Allergy Dermatitis?

If you think your dog is suffering from flea allergy dermatitis, it’s important to visit your veterinarian for an appropriate treatment plan, which may include:

  • Topical therapy, such as a soothing shampoo, to reduce skin irritation
  • Steroids to help break the itch-scratch cycle
  • Antibiotics to help with secondary skin infection or hot spots
  • Vacuuming and cleaning your house and anywhere your dog or other pets spend time to help get rid of fleas

The Importance of Flea Protection

Fleas aren’t picky when it comes to the age or type of dog they infest. They also hitch rides on pets year-round, though warmer, humid times of year are when they are most prevalent. Keeping your dog and other pets in your home on an effective flea treatment year-round can reduce the incidence of flea allergy dermatitis.

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Credelio® (lotilaner)  

Credelio kills adult fleas and is indicated for the treatment and prevention of flea infestations and treatment and control of tick infestations (lone star tick, American dog tick, black-legged tick, and brown dog tick) for one month in dogs and puppies 8 weeks and older and 4.4 pounds or greater. 

Important Safety Information: 
Lotilaner is a member of the isoxazoline class of drugs. This class has been associated with neurologic adverse reactions including tremors, incoordination, and seizures. Seizures have been reported in dogs receiving this class of drugs, even in dogs without a history of seizures. Use with caution in dogs with a history of seizures or neurologic disorders. The safe use of Credelio in breeding, pregnant or lactating dogs has not been evaluated. The most frequently reported adverse reactions are weight loss, elevated blood urea nitrogen, increased urination, and diarrhea. For complete safety information, please see Credelio product label or ask your veterinarian.