Pet Health with Dr. Angela Gaeto: Flea Allergies
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – While every pet can get itchy from fleas, many owners are not aware that pets can actually be allergic to fleas leading to severe reactions that can cause red skin, baldness, and incessant scratching.
Dr. Angela Gaeto from Helen Woodward Animal Center joined Good Morning San Diego to discuss flea allergies.
What are flea allergies?
Fleas pester our pets because they bite them in order to eat. While this is irritating to all pets some develop a more intense reaction. This is due to a hypersensitivity to the flea saliva. Every individual pet is different in the number of bites required to cause a reaction but in some cases it can be so low the owner doesn’t even see any fleas.
How do I know if my pet is affected?
Since visualizing fleas is not enough to say an individual pet is plagued by flea allergies, there are different clues we must look for. Pets with flea allergies are very itchy. Most pets with fleas will scratch but are less obsessive about the scratching. Most pets with fleas will also not get obvious changes to their skin. This is not the case with flea allergies where pets can get bald spots especially on the back half of their body. They will also often get red, crusty areas and develop scabbing from repeated trauma to the skin. Also pets in areas where fleas are prevalent are more likely to be affected.
How can I treat and prevent it?
Treatment depends on the severity in each pet. Avoidance of fleas is generally the best policy. This may be difficult in areas where fleas are prevalent. Some pets will require multiple types of flea repellent products in order to maintain adequate comfort. When having flare ups, pets may need additional medication to decrease the inflammation in their immune system.