Is it a flea allergy?

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For many pet owners, this is also the time when our cats and dogs can not stop scratching! Before you go changing your pet’s diet or running out for expensive supplements, you should think about when the aggravation began. The mid to late summer months are the height of flea season that may be an itchy scratchy nightmare for the cats and dogs with a flea allergy. Gremlin went through this, so I’ve been there! Here’s the way to tell if that’s what is going on.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis in Dogs The allergy is not to the fleas themselves, but their spit. This means the itchy reaction can happen after just one bite and can persist long after the flea is gone.
If you see your dog scratching, licking, and chewing at the base of their tail, haunches, under their legs, buttocks, and stomach, they might be experiencing a flea allergy. The chewing can cause dry scaly patches of skin and if left untreated can lead to open sores that are prone to infection. Some dogs will even have red bumps in the affected areas.
Just like dogs, many cats can be allergic to flea saliva. Cats have a similar scratching, licking, and chewing pattern as puppies and can develop a rash of small round bumps, called feline army dermatitis (due to the resemblance to millet seeds) over their back, neck, and face.
Even With a Monthly Preventative
You may think that your pet’s protected against fleas because of your stringent monthly preventative schedule, but not every preventative is created equally. There are numerous preventatives both over the counter and prescription. Many over the counter methods take days and a few even require the fleas to bite before killing them and since this is an allergy to their spit, this just won’t do.
Prescription methods are your best bet, but even there you’ll realize that some are better than others.Some work faster than others. For instance, based on Elanco, the manufacturers of Comfortis, Comfortis starts killing fleas within half an hour of government with an effective rate of 98-100% over four hours. Nexgard, the most popular preventative currently, needs 24 hours to kill 100% of fleas.
Besides speed, you and your vet should consider how the preventative targets fleas. The active ingredient in Comfortis (and one of these in Trifexis, also an Elanco brand) is Spinosad. This medication attacks the nervous system of the flea. Nexgard uses the ingredient, afoxolaner, which over-stimulates the nervous system of fleas. Sentinel, a fresh Gremlin knows and loves, uses lufenuron, which acts as a growth inhibitor, killing fleas in the egg and larvae stage. Sentinel’s belief is that if there are no baby fleas growing up to be blood-sucking adult fleas, there will not be a flea issue.
A Combination of Treatments
When you talk about treatment with your veterinarian, ask about a combination of remedies. In New Orleans, where the flea population is radically out of control, our vet (who I also worked for) advocated a Comfortis/Sentinel combo. This mixture kills adult fleas on your dog and controls any creatures they pick up out and about. I strongly recommend asking your vet about this as soon as possible if your dog is struggling this summer.
Treating Your Dwelling
You aren’t done yet. Carpets, rugs, wood, laminate, and tiled floors are all safe havens for flea eggs. You absolutely have to treat your home and yard if you are going to truly have an influence on your personal flea population.
For this, I recommend Fleabusters. It’s much easier than you might think to use and not at all toxic to your loved ones. Fleabusters is a borate powder which doesn’t poison or attack anything. And it does so very effectively.
The application process is rather easy. It’s a very fine powder which you spread around your flooring and yard (especially damp and shady areas). You’ll need to use a broom or foxtail brush to spread it around your floors surfaces. You are able to vacuum and sweep normally because it has a static property which helps it cling to any surface. After using this powder, you will notice more than your flea population diminishing! This stuff works on many household pests! We’re big fans!
A Tricky Problem Many times there will not be signs of fleas because of the preventative you’re giving, in which case you may be given a special diet or nutritional supplement.
For instance, once the biting and itching didn’t resolve itself after medications and supplements it was recommended to us that Gremlin start a drastic and lifelong steroid course! If your dog or cat is more than a year old and has been fine with their diet seemingly until today, then you need to bring up what you have read here!
Consider how few variables have changed on your dog’s life and make that a point. If you do wind up with a new diet or supplement that does not do the trick, consider a second opinion.

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