Just like humans, dogs can suffer from allergies. Instead of watery eyes and runny noses, allergies in dogs manifest in scratching, licking feet or rubbing their faces on the carpet. These behaviors can often result in secondary problems such as sores, skin infections, hair loss and hot spots. Canine allergies come from a number of sources - primarily fleas, foods and environmental irritants such as pollen and dust mites. We will look at each of these separately over the next few months.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis
This is a very common allergy in dogs and is actually a reaction to the saliva of the flea. Because this allergy causes extreme itching, it often leads to the development of secondary skin infections. Surprisingly most dogs with a flea allergy will have very few fleas. They will groom themselves excessively trying to relieve the itching and in the process eliminate evidence of the fleas. However, just a few flea bites over a week or two are sufficient to make a flea allergic dog itchy all the time.
Symptoms of fleas allergies include:
There are three key elements to treating flea allergy dermatitis.
Use a flea control product that is safe and effective on your pet. The life span of a flea is influenced by environmental conditions and can vary from two to three weeks up to a year. Optimal conditions include humidity of 75 to 85 percent and temperature of 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity is more important than the temperature. Let's face it, Florida can be flea heaven so you will probably use flea control products year round. Remove flea larvae and eggs from the indoor environment by frequent vacuuming and carpet cleaning. Don't hesitate to use a professional service if you think it is necessary. You might also want to use a "flea comb" and groom frequently.
As always, consult your Vet for diagnosis of the allergy. Make sure to see the doctor if your dog develops sores.
Karen is the owner of Karen's Canine Kitchen. She is passionate about helping her customers select the best products so their pets can live happy, healthy lives. Karen and her husband have three rescue dogs of their own.