The reason why dogs and cats usually scratch themselves after getting flea bites is because of flea allergy. When the flea bites, it injects its saliva into the pet. This can cause allergenic reactions, which can last up to 2 weeks after the bite. The dog or cat will be scratching itself all the time and start losing hair in the infected area. If you look closer at the skin, you will find groups or clusters of small red dots. These are flea bites that can potentially cause flea allergy.
Flea allergies in cats and dogs
Cats are better than dogs at getting rid of the fleas. They simply catch and eat them. If your cat can’t get rid of fleas by itself, a safe way to help it is with a flea comb. Simply look through the fur for little black moving spots. Sometimes flea dirt will give them away.
When the fleas lay eggs on your pet, they often fall off where your pet rests. Here, they continue evolving into larvae, pupae and lastly they turn into adult fleas. They mostly go through the pupal stage in 10 days, but sometimes it can last a whole year.
If you search the area where the pet rests and the pet itself, you will find that only a small percentage of the flea infestation consists of adult fleas. Most of it is eggs, larvae and pupae. It might surprise you that the most common flea you will find on your cat, and your dog too, is the cat flea.
Treat flea allergy by getting rid of fleas first
The best way to get rid of flea allergy is by getting rid of the fleas. In the worst cases, you will also have to supplement with different kinds of medication that stops the itching and treats the infected wounds. When the dog or cat itself is flea-free, you should continue to the area where it rests. Clean all blankets and vacuum daily to reduce the flea infestation to a minimum.
To make sure the fleas don’t attack your pet again, you can apply flea drops (also called spot-on treatment) on the neck of the pet. Do this every four weeks during flea season for best results. Make sure you get the right product for your pet, as they differ depending on your dog or cats size. If you overdose, it can kill your pet. Be sure to read the instructions carefully. Most products kill and prevent both fleas and ticks at the same time, and the most popular ones are Advantage and Frontline.
Home remedies that provide relief for dog flea allergy
Make sure that your dog is indeed suffering from dog flea allergy, before using the following home remedies or OTC treatment. If needed, search for dog flea allergy dermatitis pictures online and on this website. Once you are assured that your pet is indeed suffering from flea allergy dermatitis, use the following remedies to provide relief to your distressed pet:
Bathe your pet
The warm water will reduce swelling and give your pet much needed relief. Do not use any harsh shampoos. Go for a soothing shampoo containing oatmeal or aloe vera. You can also soak your pet in an oatmeal bath. Add colloidal oatmeal to warm water and let the pet soak in for 10-15 minutes. Aveeno oatmeal products are also beneficial. Dry your pet thoroughly after the bath and immediately administer some flea control medicine or attach a flea collar if you prefer that. This will prevent new fleas from jumping on your pet.
Use soothing creams
If bathing your pet isn’t an option, liberally apply Aloe Vera gel on the bitten areas. Your dog may have chewed its skin raw in an attempt to get rid of the fleas so you might see some red spots, blisters or bumps. Aloe Vera lotion or gel helps soothe away redness and can make the itch go away instantly. Reapply as often as needed through the day. In case you do not have aloe vera, you can apply Calendula ointment. Coconut oil is another soothing home remedy for flea allergy in dogs. 1% hydrocortisone cream can also take away the itching, pain, swelling and redness. Do not use this remedy for more than 2 days as it contains a steroid and, in the longer run, could be harmful for your pet.
If your dog shows severe signs of flea allergy dermatitis, Benadryl can be very useful. This blocks the histamine and stops the itch almost instantly. The usual dose is 1-3mg per pound of your dog’s body weight.
Feed your dog skin soothing supplements
Many pets experience relief from dog flea allergy after taking essential fatty acid supplements. These supplements soothe the itch and strengthen your pet’s immune system. They are available in the market without prescription, but may take a while to work.
How to soothe flea allergy dermatitis in cats
Cats can also have an allergic reaction to flea saliva. Your cat might scratch its head and neck to the point that it starts losing its hair or developing blisters. After an examination of your cat, you might see tiny black specks or flea dirt. You might even see skin sores and your vet could order skin tests to ensure that flea allergy is indeed the root cause of these symptoms. Here are ways to soothe flea allergy dermatitis in cats:
Prevent your cat from being bitten
Ask your vet about insecticides and insect growth regulators that can prevent flea eggs, larvae and adult fleas. Never use dog flea products on cats and vice a versa as this can be very harmful to your pets.
Bathe your cat
Cats generally do not need too much of bathing and washing but if your pet is miserable from the itching, warm water baths can help. Use a mild shampoo to bathe your pet thoroughly. Your vet can also recommend the right anti-itch shampoos and conditioners to bathe your pet.
Stop the itching cycle
Vets normally recommend antihistamines like Benadryl, corticosteroids and essential fatty acid supplements to stop cat flea allergy symptoms. Check the dosage with your vet.
There are many other ways to get rid of fleas and soothe flea allergy dermatitis in pets, but the above steps have worked very well for me. You can also use flea drops, powder, pills, spray, shampoo and even flea bombs to get rid of fleas and thereby prevent flea allergy on your pets. Just remember to treat all your pets and do it on a regular basis. The best way to get rid of a flea infestation and flea allergy is to prevent it.
Got fleas? Find out which products work in 2019, with my updated flea control product comparison chart.