Flea allergies are an uncomfortable issue for many dogs. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult to determine if your dog is having a reaction to fleas or to another irritant. Only your vet can help you say for sure what’s happening with your dog, but here is some important information to help you determine if it’s possible that your dog has flea allergies. The more information you have when you head to the vet the better.
The Low Down on Flea Allergies
Flea allergies bear many of the same symptoms of other allergies. After all, allergies all cause similar symptoms due to being based on similar reactions within the body. So if your dog is showing signs of an allergy, the very first step is figuring out if your dog has fleas.
Is Your Dog on Preventative
First thing’s first. Is your dog on flea and tick preventative? Your answer should be yes. If so, the chances of your dog’s irritation being flea related is very low. If not, things get a little more complicated.
Symptoms of Flea Allergies
Symptoms of flea allergies include red, irritated, itchy skin. Raised bumps. And in severe cases of allergic dermatitis related to fleas, inflamed, thickened skin with or without purulence (oozing). These symptoms will generally be confined to the body, as fleas rarely venture up to a dog’s head.
Check for Fleas
To check for fleas, push the hair back away from the skin towards the head. This will allow you to see your dog’s skin. Start at the tail and work your way forward. Fleas love to hang out on the rump, so look for any small, black crawly things when you push the fur back. Also look for any black crusty stuff on the skin. That could be a sign of flea dirt.
Is it Flea Dirt or Allergic Dermatitis
Flea dirt is really just a nice way of saying flea poop. It’s the excrement they leave behind from digesting their blood meals. If you find any black crusties on your dog wipe them off onto a paper towel and dribble a little alcohol on it. Then rub the crust between the paper towel. If the towel becomes pink, it’s flea dirt.
Unless your dog is dramatically allergic, flea allergies are generally a localized reaction, which means that the areas of irritation can tell us if the allergy is likely to be fleas. If the majority of your dog’s ski irritation is on the rump, back, and/or belly, it’s most likely flea allergies. However, if your dog has inflamed feet or a facial irritation or swelling it’s likely something else.
Flea Allergies are No Joke
Flea allergies can be incredibly uncomfortable, and depending on the severity of the allergy, downright painful for dogs. Your first and best line of defense against flea allergies is to keep you dog on flea and tick preventative. However, even if your dog is on preventative, no medication can ever be guaranteed 100% effective.
If you notice allergic symptoms on your dog, contact your vet immediately, and follow the above guidelines to determine if flea allergies are a possibility of if something else is giving your dog trouble. But always see your vet as soon as possible.