Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Since flea season is right around the corner, I wanted to talk about Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD). FAD is the most common skin condition that veterinarians see. FAD occurs when a dog or cat is allergic to flea bites.

FAD symptoms worsen during peak flea seasons, usually during the summer or fall. Once your pet has been bitten (even just once), you will notice excessive scratching, chewing, licking or biting. More extreme signs of FAD include small, red skin lesions and hair loss. Hot spots can also be present.

Diagnosis is based on your pet’s history, clinical signs and the presence of fleas. Your veterinarian might also do an intradermal test, this is similar to allergy testing in humans, where a small amount of solution is placed under the skin. If a reaction occurs, you are allergic to that particular allergen.

Pets with FAD are treated by keeping the pet itself and its environment flea free. To control fleas on your pet, you will want to use a spot-on flea control product, such as Advantage or Frontline Plus.

To treat your home, you can use a combination of vaccuming and insecticide, such as Virbac Area Treatment to rid your home of any current flea infestations.


3 thoughts on “Flea Allergy Dermatitis

  1. Wendy says:

    I had a Sheltie with continual ear infections. He was also allergic to many things, and the vet kept saying that the ear infections would stop when we found the right allergen. After months and months of diet adjustments, treatments, etc, we finally got the ear infections conquered.

    In my dog, the ear infections were directly related to a flea allergy and it took several trials of different flea control products to find just the right one that the dog could tolerate and would allow the ear to heal. Flea allegries are just miserable for the dog and I was surprized to learn just how common they are.

  2. Scott says:

    I know FAD is much more common in the spring/summer but our golden seems to only pick up hot spots about this time of year and not at other points during the year. Is temperature the culprit for the derm related issues we see with Shiloh? Anything great out there for spring hot spots?

    • Lissa says:

      Hi Scott,

      This time of year they could be moisture related since its rainy and muddy. This combined with shedding seems to be one of the causes of hot spots. Because your golden has longer hair, you will want to maybe have him groomed more often this time of year. Bathing at home doesn’t get all the dirt and grime that is on the skin like a hydrosurge grooming bath does. If he does get a hot spot, trim his hair down to the skin and wash it with an antiseptic wash, such as Nolvasan Surgical Scrub (it works well, I’ve used it for my cat’s abscess) and let it air dry. If he keeps trying to lick it, you can get some Lick Guard and put around the sore (not on it). If it doesn’t improve in a day or keeps getting worse, you will want to take him to the vet to get some antibiotics and maybe an Elizabethan collar to keep him from chewing.

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