What is Flea Allergy Dermatitis?
It is an allergic reaction where the animal has a sensitivity to being bitten by a flea and the flea saliva, that results in severe skin irritation and inflammation. It is among one of the most common skin allergies found in dogs, but is also becoming more common in cats.
What happens to the body?
When a flea bites an animal, they inject a small bit of saliva back into the skin, this has anticoagulant properties therefore stopping the blood from coagulating, so the flea can get a non stop blood feed. It is the protein within this saliva that causes the allergic reaction. There are 15 different antigens that are present within the flea saliva that are capable of causing this reaction we see in our pets.
Since these animals are hypersensitive to the flea saliva, it may only take one or two flea bites to produce such a severe reaction, that can last for weeks. A reaction can take up to 7 days to manifest from the original bite, so quite often the owner will look and say "but they don’t have fleas".
What are the signs?
Animals that have flea allergic dermatitis are mainly affected on the back at the base of the tail, the tail, back of legs and belly. There will be a lot of biting, licking and scratching in these areas. The animal may appear to be over grooming. The hair will start to thin, become dry, brittle and break off or fall out all together. The skin will appear to be red and inflamed with pimple like eruptions, that when the animal scratches and breaks the skin they will form scabs and crust over. With the scratching and self mutilation, it can lead on to secondary skin infections such as hot spots, bacterial pyodermas, folliculitis and for cat’s military eczema.
This can be an all year round problem, but the worse times are seen in the peak flea periods and breeding seasons of Spring and Summer.
What you can do to help?
Keeping your pet flea free is top priority, regularly treating for fleas and also trying to breaking the life cycle by washing bedding and vacuuming areas where the animal sleeps to get rid of eggs and larvae. Allergies are immune based; therefore keeping your pet in top health with a well supported immune system will help to lessen the severity of the reaction. This can be done by a good healthy diet, boosting the immune system using herbs, homeopathy and supplements such as fish oils. Also keeping your pet happy and stress free.
Remedies in the Tagiwig range that can help to support the normal immune response to your pet that is suffering from flea allergic dermatitis are:
FAD – Flea Allergic Dermatitis