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Flea Allergy Dermatitis in Dogs… What to look for, and ways to help your pet.

Does your dog have something that looks like an allergic reaction and you think it might be flea allergy dermatitis? If so, this article might be just what you’re looking for because in this article, we’re going to try to “shed” some light on what flea dermatitis is, what some of the symptoms are and how your veterinarian might try and treat it.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!

What is Flea Allergy Dermatitis?

Flea Dermatitis is actually one of the most common skin problems a dog can have because, let’s face it now matter how hard a person can try, dogs will always be at risk (for more information on ways to prevent fleas be sure to check out our Best Flea Medications article).

And while…

Technically, fleas aren’t the problem, it’s their saliva, at the end of the day, it is the presence of fleas that can be very problematic to some dogs who have a “heightened” sensitivity to their presence.

Which dogs are most at risk?

If your dog has had fleas before and did not have an allergic reaction, then it’s not likely he’ll get one the second time he/she has fleas (but let’s be honest – you gotta do something to help your dog from catching fleas so many times!).

That said however…

Like humans, it is possible that your dog may develop an allergy later on in life so even it he or she wasn’t allergic to fleas as a puppy, we don’t want to rule out the possibility that he or she may develop a flea allergy later on.

Which is why…

You’ll want to be aware of what some of the symptoms of flea allergy dermatitis are so that you can quickly determine the cause of your dog’s discomfort.

Symptoms or Clinical Signs of Flea Allergy Dermatitis

There are a few things you can look for if you think that your dog has flea allergy dermatitis aka pruiritis. Those things include:

  • Hair loss (alopecia),
  • Itching and scratching,
  • Scabs,
  • Bites.

Often times…

The hind legs are the most affected areas on your dog so take special note of them! You will also, obviously, probably spot the actual fleas. However, just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t there.


If you see these symptoms, the first thing that you’re going to want to do is take your dog to a veterinarian to detect flea allergies.

This is because…

After a careful examination, your veterinarian may actually diagnose your dog with another skin infection such as:

  • Military dermatitis,
  • Good allergies
  • Or some kind of skin lesions unrelated to any type of allergy.

Your vet will also…

Try to diagnose the issue by simply using a “flea comb” and checking out the scabs. Most of the time, your vet will recommend a treatment plan without doing any “official” tests which can be a bit pricey if needed later on.

They may also…

Look for any secondary skin infections and treat those if necessary.

Life Cycle of a Flea

It’s important to understand this in order to treat – and prevent – this. Otherwise, your dog will have another problem in a few weeks.


To start, a flea infestation is usually less than 10% adult fleas. Those are the big, brown obvious ones. The other +90% are smaller: eggs, larvae and pupae. These are the smaller ones and are the much “harder” ones to get rid.


Because they’re much harder to see and because often times, you may think that you killed them all when in reality you just got rid of MOST.

But remember…

If you miss even one egg during treatment, you’re probably going to have a flea infestation in 12-22 days when the egg hatches.

Treatment Options

The best thing you can do is treat the dog (ie kill fleas).   Now you will need to start with a flea comb and thoroughly comb your entire dog.


In between strokes, wipe the comb or dip it into a flea treatment solution. Then, you will want to bathe your dog regularly with flea shampoo.

The best idea…

Is to follow the instructions given by your vet and/or on the medicated shampoo. If your dog has a reaction to the shampoo, try a different brand. If you have another dog or cat, be careful they don’t interact too closely with the infected dog, otherwise they may get infested with fleas as well.

And here is where…

We usually like to remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians or medical professionals.  All we are is a bunch of folks who are very passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them.


If you feel like your pet may be suffering from flea allergy dermatitis (or any other medical issue for that matter) be sure to have him or her checked out by a professional right away.  By doing so, you may be able to save your pet a lot of pain and suffering and improve his or her chances at a speedy recovery (which is great), but you could also save yourself a ton of money as well.

You see…

One thing that we’ve learned here at IndulgeYourPet is that usually, the quicker you begin treating an issue, the cheaper it will usually be.  Which brings us to our next topic which is the “cost” of treating flea allergy dermatitis.

Vet Costs

The good thing about flea allergies is that it doesn’t require expensive treatment. There is no surgery or major procedure required for your pet to get better. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not going to be pricey. You’ll have to visit the vet at least once. If there are secondary infections, you’ll return. Any other complications could bring you back to the vet and a single vet visit may cost you $100 or more.

This is why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet are such big proponents of pet insurance.  This way if your pet does develop an allergy or does need to receive continued treatment for his or her condition, some of the costs of these might be reduced depending on the insurance you have in place.

For more information about who we “feel” currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies in the industry, be sure to check out our article:  Best Pet Insurance Companies.

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