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For many pet owners, this is also the time when our dogs and cats can’t stop scratching! Before going changing your pet’s diet or exercising for expensive supplements, you should think about when the irritation began. These summer months are a parasite’s paradise! The mid to late summer months are the height of flea season that may be a itchy scratchy nightmare for the cats and dogs with a flea allergy. Gremlin went through this, so I’ve been there! Here’s the way to tell if that’s what’s happening.
Flea allergy dermatitis is the most common allergy in dogs over a year old with symptoms flaring in mid to late summer. The allergy is not to the fleas themselves, but their spit. This means the itchy reaction can occur after only one bite and may persist long after the flea is gone.
If you see your dog scratching, licking, and chewing at the base of the tail, haunches, under their legs, buttocks, and stomach, they may be experiencing a flea allergy. The chewing can cause dry scaly patches of skin and if left untreated can result in open sores that are prone to infection. Some dogs may even have red bumps in the affected regions.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis In Cats
Just like dogs, many cats can be allergic to flea saliva. Cats have a similar scratching, licking, and chewing pattern as puppies and can develop a rash of small round lumps, called feline military dermatitis (because of their similarity to millet seeds) within their back, neck, and face.
Even With a Monthly Preventative
You may think that your pet’s protected against fleas because of your stringent monthly preventative schedule, but not every preventative is created equally. There are many preventatives both over the counter and prescription. Many over the counter methods take days and a few even require the fleas to bite before killing them and since this is an allergy to their saliva, this just will not do.
Prescription methods are your best bet, but even there you will realize that some are better than others.Some work faster than others. As an example, according to Elanco, the makers of Comfortis, Comfortis starts killing fleas within 30 minutes of administration with an effective rate of 98-100% over four hours. Nexgard, the most popular preventative now, needs 24 hours to kill 100% of fleas.
Besides speed, you and your veterinarian should consider how the preventative targets fleas. The active ingredient in Comfortis (and one of these in Trifexis, also an Elanco brand) is Spinosad. This drug attacks the nervous system of the flea. Nexgard uses the ingredient, afoxolaner, which over-stimulates the nervous system of fleas. Sentinel, a fresh Gremlin knows and loves, uses lufenuron, which acts as a development inhibitor, killing fleas in the egg and larvae stage. Sentinel’s belief is that if there are no baby fleas growing up to be blood-sucking adult fleas, there will not be a flea issue.
A Combination of Treatments
When you talk about treatment with your veterinarian, ask about a combination of treatments. In New Orleans, where the flea population is radically out of control, our veterinarian (who I also worked for) advocated a Comfortis/Sentinel combo. This combination kills adult fleas on your dog and controls any creatures they pick up out and about. I strongly recommend asking your vet about this whenever you can if your dog is fighting this summer.
Treating Your Home
You are not done yet. Fleas are tiny and their eggs are even tinier. You absolutely need to treat your house and yard if you are going to truly have an influence on your own flea population.
For this, I urge Fleabusters. It’s far easier than you may think to use and not at all toxic to your loved ones. Fleabusters is a borate powder that doesn’t poison or attack anything. It’s really a desiccant, meaning it dehydrates it’s victims to death. And it does so very effectively.
The application process is pretty easy. It’s a very fine powder which you spread around your flooring and yard (especially damp and shady areas). You will want to use a broom or foxtail brush to spread it around your flooring surfaces. You can vacuum and sweep normally because it has a static property which helps it cling to any surface. After using this powder, you will find more than your flea population diminishing! This stuff works on many household pests! We’re big fans!
A Tricky Problem Many times there will not be signs of fleas due to the preventative you’re giving, in which case you may be given a special diet or supplement.
For example, when the biting and itching didn’t resolve itself after drugs and supplements it was recommended to us that Gremlin start a drastic and lifelong steroid program! If your cat or dog is more than a year old and has been fine with their diet apparently until today, then you need to bring up what you’ve read here!
Consider how few factors have changed on your dog’s life and make that a point. Should you end up with a new diet or supplement that does not do the trick, consider a second opinion.

Is it a flea allergy?

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