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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 one of the most common skin problems a dog can have because, let’s face it now, no 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). While technically, fleas aren’t the problem, it’s their saliva. Fleas’ presence can be problematic to some dogs with a “heightened” sensitivity to their company.

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 they have fleas (but let’s be honest – you have to do something to help your dog from catching fleas so many times!). However, like humans, your dog may develop an allergy later on in life, so even if they weren’t allergic to fleas as a puppy, we don’t want to rule out the possibility that they may develop a flea allergy later on.

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

Symptoms of 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 pruritis. Those things include:

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

The hind legs are often 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 you will want to do is take your dog to a veterinarian to detect flea allergies. This is because, after a careful examination, your veterinarian may diagnose your dog with another skin infection, such as:

  • Military dermatitis,
  • Good allergies
  • Or some 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. They may also look for any secondary skin infections and treat those if necessary.

Life Cycle of a Flea

It’s essential to understand this to treat – and prevent – this. Otherwise, your dog will have another problem in a few weeks. Now, 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 the much “harder” ones to eliminate.

Mainly because they’re much harder to see and because, often, 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’ll probably have a flea infestation in 12-22 days when the egg hatches.

Treatment Options

The best thing you can do is treat the dog (i.e., kill fleas).   Now, you must start with a flea comb and thoroughly comb your dog. Then, 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…

It is to follow the instructions given by your vet and on the medicated shampoo. If your dog reacts 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. And here is where we usually remind folks that we at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians, or medical professionals. We are all a bunch of folks 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), be sure to have them checked out by a professional immediately. Doing so may save your pet a lot of pain and suffering and improve their chances of a speedy recovery (which is excellent), but you could also save yourself a ton of money. One thing we’ve learned here at IndulgeYourPet is that the quicker you begin treating an issue, the cheaper it will be, wThis brings us to our next topic, the “cost” of treating flea allergy dermatitis.


The good thing about flea allergies is that it doesn’t require expensive treatment. No surgery or significant procedure is necessary 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; a single vet visit may cost you $100 or more.

This is why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet are such big proponents of pet insurance. If your pet develops an allergy or needs continued treatment for their condition, some of these costs 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, check out our article:  Best Pet Insurance Companies.

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