Is My Cat Allergic To Fleas
Your cat is itching like crazy, so of course youre wondering what the deal is.
One possible explanation is flea allergy dermatitis, which means she has an allergy to fleas so imagine the itchiness of fleas, multiplied by an allergic reaction!
The Dodo reached out to Dr. Ursula Oberkirchner, a veterinary dermatologist and owner of Advanced Veterinary Dermatology in Florida, to find out what flea allergy dermatitis is and how it can affect your cat.
What Causes Flea Allergy Dermatitis In Dogs
Fleas inject saliva that contains a variety of histamine-like compounds, enzymes, polypeptides, and amino acids. They do so while feeding.
Dogs can develop either immediate or delayed reactions, or both.
Dogs who are exposed continuously to flea bites have low levels of circulating antibodies in their bodies from the fleas saliva. They either do not develop skin reactions or develop them later and to a considerably reduced degree.
In hypersensitive dogs flea allergy dermatitis can be intense and may show up all over the body.
- lower back
The rump and tailhead areas are typically the first, most evident, areas affected.
If you have a light-colored dog the hair may be stained brown from the licking.
Common Secondary Lesions
- broken papules covered with reddish brown crusts
From scratching, your dog can also develop hotspots. Typically, behind the ears, on the neck and shoulders. I have a quick, simple, inexpensive and effective remedy for hotspots.
Its important to note that extremely hypersensitive animals might be virtually free of fleas but still show these symptoms and signs. Also, a secondary bacterial skin infection can be associated with flea allergy dermatitis.
Throttling Up The Itch: Flea Allergy Dermatitis
Thursday, May 4, 2017 | Health
The mere mention of fleas is enough to make you feel itchy all over. Now double that and you might know how your dog or cat feels when flea season hits. The mere presence of fleas can make a dog or cat itchy, but for pets who are allergic to fleas, its even worse: a single bite can lead to a severe reaction called flea allergy dermatitis .
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As If Fleas Could Get Any Worse
Your dog is scratching way more than normal, and youre starting to notice some hotspots on his skin.
Hes behind on his flea medication but you dont see any fleas on him. So that cant be it, right?
If this scenario sounds familiar, its actually very possible your poor pup has flea allergy dermatitis.
The Dodo reached out to Dr. Ursula Oberkirchner, a veterinary dermatologist and owner of Advanced Veterinary Dermatology in Florida, to find out what flea allergy dermatitis is and how it can affect your dog.
Home Remedies For Dog Skin Rash From Fleas
A skin rash attributed to fleas is most often diagnosed by veterinarians. The rash is caused by the dog’s allergic reaction to the flea saliva left on the skin when the flea feeds. The common name for the malady is flea allergy dermatitis. First the fleas need to be eliminated to enable the skin to heal. In helping the skin back to healthy condition, prescription medications may by necessary, in addition to home remedies.
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Treating Flea Allergy Dermatitis In Your Pet
If you do suspect your dog or cat has flea allergy dermatitis, take them to your veterinarian. They will look for evidence of fleas and may perform a flea elimination trial, skin tests or blood tests.
Bites from just one flea can be enough to trigger intense itching in a pet with FAD, and your veterinarian may diagnose FAD even if fleas or flea dirt arent visible.
Minimizing the number of flea bites is the most important part of managing FAD. You can control fleas year-round with effective, fast-acting products likeK9 Advantix®II * or Advantage®II flea treatments. Imidacloprid the active ingredient in both solutions, kills fleas through contact in as little as two hours.5This means that fleas dont need to bite your pet and cause further irritation before the treatment takes effect. Once fleas come into contact with your pet, they are affected within 3-5 minutes. Re-infesting adult fleas are killed within 2 -12 hours of jumping on your pet.6
All pets in the household should be treated whether or not they show signs of flea infestation.
* Do not use K9 Advantix®II on cats.
Signs Your Pet Has Flea Bites
Fleas are parasites that feed on blood. Cats and dogs make perfect host for bloodsuckingfleas because they are warm and furry and make a comfortable nest for fleas andtheir eggs. Flea bites can cause serious itchingand skin inflammation because flea saliva is an allergen. If you ever had a flea bite you probably recall scratchingthe spot only to intensify the itch. Oh,the torment of flea bites! Now imagine how poor bowwow and tomcat feelswhen they are overrun by fleas
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Why Does Flea Allergy Dermatitis Develop
Flea allergy dermatitis occurs in pets that develop a hypersensitivity to flea saliva. When these pets are bitten by a flea, the itching that results from the injection of saliva is much more severe and prolonged than what normal pets experience. While some dogs and cats can easily tolerate a moderate number of flea bites each day, flea-allergic pets do not!
How Do I Stop Flea Bites From Itching
Dont scratch your flea bites. You risk breaking your skin and exposing yourself to infection. If you accidentally break your skin, keep the area clean by washing it with soap and water and covering your flea bites with a bandage. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have an infected flea bite.
Flea bites only last a few days. However, there are many over-the-counter products or home remedies that can stop flea bites from itching.
Home remedies are safe for most people. However, its a good idea to check with your healthcare provider before trying some of the following options to get rid of your flea bites. You may be at risk of developing an allergic reaction on your skin.
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Flea Allergy Dermatitis In Dogs And Cats: Symptoms Treatment And Prevention
Flea bites expose pets to flea saliva which some pets become allergic to over time. This allergic reaction is known as flea allergy dermatitis, or FAD.
FAD is an allergic skin condition that mostly affects pets aged over one year and commonly occurs in dogs and cats with underlying skin diseases like atopic dermatitis.1, 2 Pets with FAD can damage their skin by constantly scratching, biting or licking, and this damage can lead to secondary infection.
Can Fleas Become Resistant To Flea Products
If flea control depends on flea products, and these have been used for many years, do fleas develop resistance? Hypothetically, they could. âIn theory, resistance would be more likely with the products that have been on the market longer,â Dr. Oldenhoff says. âFor this reason, I have recently been recommending the new oral flea and tick preventives,â among them, Nexguard, Bravecto and Simparica .
Dr. Oldenhoff recommends these products because they are virtually foolproof. You donât have worries like: âDid I put the full vial on my dog? Did I get it right on the skin? Did I bathe my dog too quickly, thus washing it off?â
A dogâs perceived resistance to flea products may also be the result of their exposure to feral cats and urban wildlife, or to other pets in the household otherwise, the infestation will continue.
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How To Treat Flea Allergy Dermatitis In Dogs
Flea allergy dermatitis occurs as a result of flea bites and may develop in canines that are more sensitive. The flea allergy dermatitis will manifest through swelling, and will cause itchiness, so the dog will lick and chew the affected area. This will lead to additional irritation, which should be treated to prevent complications.
Clinical Findings Of Flea Allergy Dermatitis In Dogs And Cats
Clinical signs associated with FAD are variable and depend on frequency of flea exposure, duration of disease, presence of secondary or other concurrent skin disease, extent of hypersensitivity, and effects of previous or current treatment. Nonallergic animals may have few clinical signs other than occasional scratching due to annoyance caused by flea bites. Those patients that are allergic will typically have a dermatitis characterized by pruritus.
In dogs, the pruritus associated with FAD can be intense and may manifest over the entire body. Classic clinical signs are papulocrustous lesions distributed on the lower back, tailhead, and caudal and inner thighs. Dogs may be particularly sensitive in the flanks, caudal and medial thighs, ventral abdomen, lower back, neck, and ears. Affected dogs are likely to be restless and uncomfortable, spending much time scratching, licking, rubbing, chewing, and even nibbling at the skin. Hair may be stained brown from the licking and is often broken off. Common secondary lesions include areas of alopecia, erythema, hyperpigmented skin, scaling, papules, and broken papules covered with reddish brown crusts. The rump and tailhead areas are typically the first, most evident, areas affected. As FAD progresses and becomes chronic, the areas become alopecic, lichenified, and hyperpigmented, and secondary bacterial and yeast infections occur.
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How To Treat Flea Allergy Dermatitis In Dogs Naturally
I know how upsetting it is to have a dog who is suffering from flea allergy dermatitis. One flea can turn my dogs world upside-down. Within 24 hours he can develop a full-blown flair up.
Im going to show you how to treat flea allergy dermatitis in dogs naturally. You can cure your dogs flea allergy dermatitis without the use of chemicals and once you know what to use, youll be able to stop any future flareups in their tracks.
There are 5 natural treatments I swear by for how to heal flea allergy dermatitis in dogs naturally. Ill give you a breakdown of each and explain how to apply each.
What Is Flea Allergy Dermatitis
Flea allergy dermatitis is an allergy to flea bites and its actually super common in dogs.
Flea allergy dermatitis is one of the most common allergies in our dogs and cats, Dr. Oberkirchner told The Dodo. If this animal gets bitten by just one or very few fleas, it will become severely itchy and the downward spiral is then allowed to begin.
An allergic reaction to fleas is really uncomfortable for pets, and its far more annoying than a normal reaction to a flea bite .
Dogs and cats who suffer from FAD typically are severely itchy and often require veterinary care to help them become and stay comfortable, Dr. Oberkirchner said.
Oftentimes, it only takes one flea to cause a reaction, which means you may notice a reaction but not see fleas or flea dirt on your dog. Even if your other pets are totally fine and you cant spot a single flea in your house, its still very possible your dog has a flea allergy.
It is important to know that FAD is not the same as a flea infestation. If someone has a flea infestation in their home, most animals will itch somewhat, and one can often see fleas on the animal or in their environment, Dr. Oberkirchner said.
This is in stark contrast to FAD, she added. In FAD, it is often a single animal that is affected and, typically, the owners have never seen fleas on their pet or in their environment.
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Diagnosing Flea Allergies In Cats
Diagnosing cat flea allergy is easier if you find fleas or flea dirt, but, too often, you dont find them on an allergic cat. The cat is grooming them off so rapidly, you dont find any evidence. The diagnosis may be made by seeing how the cat responds to appropriate treatment.
Often the biggest challenge veterinarians have is convincing the cat parent that fleas can be the problem. Fleas arent seen so its difficult to believe they are there. Just one flea can cause intense itching for up to 3 months.
The cat parent may also be treating the cat for fleas, however, not all flea prevention works 100%, and they kill the flea in different ways. Some repel, some kill on contact, and some the flea must bite.
To complicate things further, your cat may have other allergies or conditions that also cause itchy skin. In these cases, you may need to treat for fleas and see how much relief your cat has. If you still have an itchy cat, you will need to look for other causes.
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 is a leading cause of allergic reactions in dogs. In an allergic reaction, the bodys immune system overreacts or is hypersensitive to a substance 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.
“A single fleabite can cause itching for days.”
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.
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First Of All What Is Flea Allergy In Dogs
Flea allergy dermatitis arises when your dogâs immune system overreacts to flea saliva. The severity of the itching doesnât necessarily correlate to the number of flea bites your dog has sometimes, it only takes a few to generate a whole lot of scratching. Many dogs will also have secondary bacterial and yeast infections, as well as environmental allergies, all of which aggravate the itch.
Cat Flea Allergy Symptoms & Management
Fleas are annoying pests that bite our pets , feeding on blood. They carry diseases and the saliva in their bites often leads to a cat flea allergy symptoms developing. An allergy to flea bites causes Flea Allergy Dermatitis . This is a fancy term for the skin problems resulting from the allergic reaction to flea saliva.
Cats, dogs, and humans can all react, but the way it shows up on the skin looks different. The hallmark in all of them is that it creates a very itchy cat or dog. FAD is the most common skin disease in pets in the world.
Dont assume your cat cant have fleas because you live in a high-rise apartment and your kitty has never touched a paw on grass. Fleas have a way of hitchhiking on humans to reach your kitty inside. Anyone can have fleas in their home!
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How Can Fad Manifest In Pets
Itching can manifest in a number of ways, including scratching, licking , biting, chewing, and rubbing the body along the ground.
Allergic skin is normally red and inflamed, which raises its temperature and humidity and creates the perfect environment for bacterial and fungal growth. Skin infections are common secondary to allergic skin disease. Most of the damage in FAD is caused by self-trauma, the animal scratching itself.
” with FAD usually have very few fleas, but severely self-traumatized due to the intense itching.”
Dogs with FAD tend to suffer lesions and hair loss in a “Christmas tree” pattern over the rump and tail base. Flea dermatitis papules tend to be found all over the body bitten by fleas.
Flea-allergic cats, on the other hand, suffer from miliary dermatitis developing ‘blackheads’ and hair loss along their back line. This is the so-called flea allergy ‘racing stripe’, although this can also occur with other skin diseases. Many owners don’t know that most itchy cats do not scratch but instead groom, so while they think the cat is frequently washing itself they don’t realize that it is actually very itchy.
How Is Flea Allergy Dermatitis Diagnosed
Clinical signs often give the first indication that your cat may suffer from FAD. Cats are such fastidious groomers that it is frequently impossible to find any evidence of fleas or flea dirt on the coat, especially if only one or two fleas are causing the problem. Intradermal allergy tests or specialized blood tests can confirm flea allergy in your cat.
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How To Diagnose And Treat Flea Allergies In Cats
This article was co-authored by Deanne Pawlisch, CVT, MA. Deanne Pawlisch is a Certified Veterinary Technician, who does corporate training for veterinary practices and has taught at the NAVTA-approved Veterinary Assistant Program at the Harper College in Illinois and in 2011 was elected to the board of the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Foundation. Deanne has been a Board Member of the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Foundation in San Antonio, Texas since 2011. She holds a BS in Anthropology from Loyola University and an MA in Anthropology from Northern Illinois University. This article has been viewed 12,185 times.
If your cat has flea allergies, it is important to take your cat to a veterinarian who can diagnose and treat the problem as soon as possible. The common symptoms of flea allergies also appear in cats affected by other skin conditions, so diagnosis can be difficult unless it is performed by a veterinarian. Once you know youre dealing with flea allergies, you can take steps to rid your home and your pet of fleas. Ask your vet for prescription medications that will relieve your cats itchiness.