Although there are many advances in dog health care, flea bite dermatitis is still a common problem. In fact, it is the most common dermatology disease in the domestic dog. In the summer, the disease is more prevalent, and warm climates can help the infestation to persist all year through.
Why does this happen?
When flea bites, it injects the saliva that has many compounds that are similar to histamine, like enzymes, polypeptides and amino acids that may cause reactions. At the first times, the reactions can happen as soon as 15 minutes or delayed until 48 hours later. Biologically speaking, when injected with saliva, dog’s blood increases in IgE and IgG antiflea antibodies. With continuous exposure, the levels of these compounds decrease greatly and stop the skin from having reactions, or have reactions much later at a small degree. Simply put, this means the development of immunologic tolerance.
Does your dog have it?
Symptoms of flea bite dermatitis vary much, and depend on the flea exposure, the duration of the disease, if your dog has any other skin disease or not, the level of hypersensitivity of the dog, and the effects of medical treatment at the infected time. The most common signs including occasional scratching.
The pruritus from this dermatitis can be intense and spread all over the body. There will probably be papulocrustous lesions over the lower back, end of the tail, the inner thighs and posteriors. There are some dogs that will be more sensitive in the flanks, caudal, medial thighs, ventral abdomen, lower back , neck, and ears. Once infected, the dog will be very restless and uncomfortable. He would probably spend most of his time scratching, licking, rubbing chewing and nibbling his skin. More than often, the hair or fur on his skin are stained brown from all the licking and can be broken off. Other symptoms include erythema, inflamed skin, scaling and papules with the reddish brown crust. The first areas to be infected are the rump and the end of the tail.
In extreme cases, extensive areas of erythema and even mental trauma symptoms can be found. When the disease becomes chronic, severe seborrhea and hyperpigmentation can develop.
You can find out if your dog is infected by doing the following recommendations:
- Be more careful in the late summer, when flea populations are at its peaks.
- Dogs older than 1-year-old is more vulnerable
- Slowly parting his hair to find flea excrement or fleas themselves.
- Use a fine tooth flea comb to comb through the hair to look for the fleas or their excrement
- Look at the dog’s bedding to find if there are any eggs, larvae or excrement of the fleas.
- The goal is to take control of the flea population on your dog. To do so, you should eliminate environmental infestation while preventing causes of reinfestations in the future.
- Firstly, eliminate existing fleas with topical treatment. It may take up to 36 hours for the compound to kill off all the fleas
- A more rapid measure is to use flea spray
- Oral products such as nitenpyram or afoxolaner are also useful.
Look out for the dog up to 8 weeks or longer, only after then can you be relieved with the complete recovery.
To protect your dog from flea bite dermatitis, it requires the control of fleas on a regular basis. Without excessive exposure to fleas, the dog would have a reactivity state to flea bites. There are many good measures available, so you should not worry more than enough. Always check with your vet to find the best solution.