August is here and summer is in full swing. For many pet owners, this is also the time when our cats and dogs can not stop scratching! Before going changing your pet’s diet or exercising for expensive supplements, you need to think about when the aggravation began. These summer months are a parasite’s paradise! The mid to late summer months are the height of flea season which can be an itchy scratchy nightmare for your dogs and cats with a flea allergy. Gremlin went through this, so I’ve been there! Here’s the way to tell if that’s what’s happening.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis in Dogs
Flea allergy dermatitis is the most common allergy in dogs over a year old with symptoms flaring in mid to late summer. The allergy isn’t to the fleas themselves, but their saliva. This means the itchy reaction can happen after only one bite and may 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 belly, they might be suffering from a flea allergy. The chewing can cause dry scaly patches of skin and if left untreated can result in open sores that are prone to infection. Some dogs will even have red bumps in the affected regions.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis In Cats
Cats have a similar scratching, licking, and chewing pattern as dogs and can develop a rash of small round bumps, called feline army dermatitis (due to their resemblance to millet seeds) over their back, neck, and face.
In Spite of a Monthly Preventative
You might think that your pet’s protected against fleas because of your strict monthly preventative program, but not every preventative is created equally. There are many preventatives both over the counter and prescription. Many over the counter methods take days and some even require the fleas to bite before killing them and as this is an allergy to their spit, this just will not do.
Prescription methods are your best bet, but even there you will realize that some are better than others.Some work quicker than others. As an example, based on Elanco, the makers of Comfortis, Comfortis starts killing fleas within 30 minutes of administration with an effective rate of 98-100% within four hours. Nexgard, the most popular preventative currently, requires 24 hours to kill 100 percent of fleas.
Apart from speed, you and your vet should consider how the preventative targets fleas. The active ingredient in Comfortis (and one of them 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, then there won’t be a flea issue.
When you talk about treatment with your veterinarian, ask about a combination of treatments. In New Orleans, where the flea population is radically out of control, our veterinarian (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 highly recommend asking your vet about this whenever possible if your dog is struggling this summer.
Treating Your Home
You aren’t done yet. You absolutely need to treat your house and yard if you’re going to truly have an influence on your personal flea population.
For this, I recommend Fleabusters. It’s far easier than you might think to use and not at all toxic to your family. Fleabusters is a borate powder that doesn’t poison or attack anything. And it does so very efficiently.
The application process is pretty straightforward. It’s a really fine powder which you spread around your floors and yard (especially damp and shady areas). You will want to use a broom or foxtail brush to spread it around your flooring surfaces. You can vacuum and sweep normally because it’s a static property which helps it cling to any surface. After using this powder, you’ll notice more than your flea population diminishing! This stuff works on most household pests! We are big fans!
A Tricky Issue
Flea allergy dermatitis can be a tricky situation to manage. Many times there will not be signs of fleas due to the preventative you’re giving, in which case you might be given a special diet or supplement.
For instance, when the itching and biting didn’t resolve itself after drugs and supplements it had been recommended to us that Gremlin start a lifelong and radical steroid course! If your cat or dog is over a year old and has been fine with their diet seemingly until today, then you need to bring up what you’ve read here!
Consider how few factors have changed on your dog’s life and make that a point. Should you end up with a new diet or supplement which doesn’t do the trick, consider another opinion. Click here for more information.