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Flea Allergy Dermatitis

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Flea Allergy Dermatitis

All of us know the difficulties of totally controlling fleas. Fleas cause two problems – a generalized irritation (pruritis) and a more complex syndrome – flea allergy dermatitis. This is an immune response to the flea saliva and in the advanced state, requires one fleabite anywhere on the body. The lesion expresses as an alopecic (bald) area on the dog’s rump with intense irritation of a long lasting nature.

Fleas and mites are the cause of most skin irritations and infections among dogs, are itchy and cause dermatitis!

The solution to the problem is simple in theory – remove all fleas and the problem resolves. Easier said than done! Flea control is multifaceted.

1. Control on the dog – various sprays and dips for skin application on a regular basis. (Frontline, Fibrotech are all great protection for all your dogs. There are also various dips available like Dazzel.)

2. Control in the environment – regular vacuuming of carpets, bedding, etc. Also required is regular washing of your dog’s bedding. Areas where dogs lay for periods may be treated with powders and agricultural lime, which dehydrates the flea’s eggs. House control also includes foggers and sprays (with the animal outside at that time). (Flea infestations will render any spray or dip ineffective. If the fleas do not seem to be under control, you should first treat your dogs environment. A thorough cycle of the flea with its productive stages should be study to know how to effectively control fleas.)

For the already infected animals, cortisone injections lasting days to a month are often incorporated to relieve the symptoms, however this is obviously palliative. Tablets may follow the initial injections and these would be dosed at the lowest levels that achieve alleviation. Systemic antibiotics may be required if a secondary infection is observed. In principal the treatment for this condition is simple, in practice a little harder.

- Ross Evans BVSc


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