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Signs of Flea Bite Dermatitis on Dogs

Flea bite dermatitis is a condition that is caused by flea infestation in dogs. Read on for some information about this canine skin condition.
DogAppy Staff
It is a common fact that dermatitis is a skin condition that is characterized by severe itching and other related symptoms. In case of dogs, dermatitis is a common condition and can be caused by various reasons. It could be contact dermatitis that may develop after direct contact with certain materials like pesticides. Dermatitis may also be caused by intake of certain medication or due to nutritional deficiencies. Even conditions like some metabolic disorders and cancer may cause this skin problem in dogs. It has also been observed that some dog breeds are predisposed to dermatitis. However, the most common cause of canine dermatitis is flea bite dermatitis.

What is Canine Flea Bite Dermatitis

Fleas are the most common external parasites found in dogs. These parasitic, wingless insects thrive on the blood of the host. In case of dogs, a flea infestation can cause various symptoms and may also lead to health problems like anemia and dermatitis. While flea infestation is characterized by itching, in case of flea bite dermatitis, the symptoms are found to be very intense.

Flea infestation can cause symptoms in dogs. But, some dogs are allergic to flea bites and such dogs are more prone to develop flea bite dermatitis. In other words, this type of dermatitis is the allergic reaction to flea bites. This is because, fleas inject their saliva into the body of the animal as they suck blood. Dogs which are hyper sensitive develop allergic reactions to the saliva, leading to this type of dermatitis, which is also known as flea allergy dermatitis. In case of such sensitive dogs, even a single flea bite will be enough for developing allergic reactions. So, heavy flea infestation is not necessary for an allergic dog to develop this dermatitis, which is among the most common type of allergy in canines.

Flea Bite Dermatitis Symptoms

As mentioned above, a single flea bite will be sufficient for a sensitive dog to develop flea allergy dermatitis signs. Even in such cases, the dog will exhibit symptoms for at least two to three weeks. Signs of flea bite dermatitis on dogs usually start with severe itching and skin inflammation. If there is heavy flea infestation, you may find fleas on the animal's coat. Otherwise, fleas may not be easily visible. The animal will exhibit extreme irritability and will start scratching and biting at the hair as well as flesh. Excessive scratching and biting may lead to skin lesions and patchy hair loss. The lesions may form oozing ulcers that are often referred to as hot spots. The ulcers may develop secondary infections and may cause severe pain to the dog. Such ulcers are usually seen on the base of the tail and on the back and groin area. In general, the skin may appear inflamed and may have small red bumps.

The condition will be diagnosed by the vet, by conducting an intradermal allergy test. Treatment for this type of canine dermatitis will be based on the condition of the animal. Medication may include antihistamines for relief from allergic reactions, and anti fungal and anti bacterial medication to prevent or treat secondary infections. The vet may also recommend medicated baths for the dog, along with some flea control medicines. You must take immediate measures to get rid of fleas from the house and surroundings. In short, prevention is always better than cure. If you notice any signs of flea bite dermatitis on your pet dog, take the animal to the vet and get it diagnosed and treated at the earliest.