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Treating Flea Allergies in Dogs

Treating Flea Allergies in Dogs

Dogs get itches when bitten by fleas. This is a normal reaction to fleabites. But there are many dogs that develop allergies to fleabites (yes, dogs have allergies too). Flea allergies could make your dog miserable to the point of concern. 


And when you visit a vet, they tell you that your dog has flea bite hypersensitivity or flea allergy dermatitis (FAD). You wonder, what is FAD? Here is the answer to your question.

What is FAD?

Flea Allergy dermatitis is the skin condition that develops when a pet has allergies to fleabites. The pet doesn’t even have to be exposed to constant fleabites before this occurs. One or two bites from fleas are enough to rouse the allergies.


Among all the skin diseases that dogs have in the United States, FAD is the most common. And because fleas thrive best in places with warm conditions and low humidity, flea allergies could spike in summer. It could even be an all-year-round plague for dogs that live in warm climates.

What exactly causes FAD?

Basically, fleas feeding  on your dog could cause flea allergies. When fleas perch on your dog to suck its blood, the saliva gets to your dog’s skin. It is the saliva that goes on to cause the allergy issues that dogs face due to some compounds that it contains that irritate the skin. Although humans can get irritated from flea saliva, it’s worse for dogs.

Symptoms of FAD

Itching is often the number one symptom of FAD. The intense kind of itching that requires all the sharp parts of the dog’s body to scratch, including the claws and the teeth. 

It is important to note, however, that not all itches are flea bite allergies. A dog can itch for days from a single flea bite but when the itching is prolonged and intense, you could have a flea bite allergy in your hands. 

But when you search for the fleas on or around your dog, you may not find them. This is because fleas rarely hang around the crime scene after committing the crime. 

They only perch on your dog when they need to feed, which often takes about 15 minutes to an hour. If the dog gets irritated before the feeding is over, the dog would scratch the flea off with its paws, or chew it off and swallow it. But if a flea has a successful feeding operation, it zooms off immediately.

Usually, the other reactions that accompany this intense itching include:

  • Raw Skin or Rashes on the Skin

When you look at the scratched up area of your dog’s skin, it is often dry, raw, and infested with scabs. The skin may be hot to the touch and you may see signs of dried blood on the area. Some dogs develop raised pimple-like bumps on the infected area.

  • Hair loss

After the dog must have scratched with teeth and claws, hair loss creeps in around the affected area.

The parts of the dog’s body that often suffer attacks from fleas are the thighs, the tail region, and their stomachs. So, if you notice excessive scratching coupled with hair loss on these parts of the dog’s body, it is most likely FAD.

Treatments and Control of FAD

1. Controlling the fleas on the dog

Practicing flea control operations on the dog is often the first thing one should do. Using insect growth regulators (IGRs) and insecticides have proven to be reliable ways to prevent the infestation of fleas. 

Insecticides like afoxolaner, fluralaner, and dinotefuran can be used on your dogs to eliminate the fleas on them. It may take from 12 to 36 hours for the effects of the insecticides to fully kick in, but you can definitely rely on them to eliminate the fleas on your dog.

2. Controlling the Flea Infestation in the Environment

After eliminating the fleas from the bodies of the pests, completely getting rid of them in the environment is the next thing to do. There are ways to achieve this:

  • Persistent use of residual insecticides or IGRs on the environment, and
  • The use of topical IGRs, oral or injectable, to prevent the fleas from reproducing.

These two methods are very effective in flea control. When you use these insecticides or IGRs regularly, you can completely eliminate flea infestations in your surroundings. These measures kill the fleas before they reproduce. 

However, the effects of insecticides and IGRs are rarely immediate. Many fleas still live for up to a day before they eventually die. You might even still find some fleas two months after you administer the insecticides.

Another thing you need to do is to keep your environment clean. Vacuum your rugs, sofa cushions, chairs, and carpets. Make sure you wash your bedding as well because these are places where the fleas live. 

Do these cleanings outside or the fleas might just migrate from one place to the other when you clean indoors.

3. Vets Often Resort to Steroids to Give Instant Reliefs

Vets use steroids, or corticosteroids, to relieve intense itches. These steroids could relieve your dog of the itching almost immediately, but excessive use is not recommended. 

This is because the excessive use of steroids could cause some unwanted reactions in the dog. In fact, this treatment is often reserved for the most severe cases of FAD. 

Also, understand that the use of steroids does not get rid of flea infestations. It only relieves the pet from the severe itching. That is why it is important to keep up the flea control practices even after administering steroids.

Thankfully, the advances in research, knowledge, and technology have provided us with alternative ways to treat FAD without having to resort to steroids. There are some other, for now less common treatments that might work well like CBD and no… Your dog won’t get high if being treated with CBD oil if it comes from some of the trustworthy producers 🙂

Ultimately, It is best to meet your veterinarian to prescribe the best FAD treatment for your dog.


You don’t have to wait till your dog suffers an infestation of fleas before you do something about them. Clean your surroundings regularly. You may even apply IGRs and insecticide from time to time for preventive measures. You can never be too careful.



Written by Maria Foster:

A poet, a writer, and a full-time RVer. Loves fishing with her four-legged friend. She grew up in Alberta with her parents and decided to start RVing through Europe 2 years ago. Maria dreams of moving to India and wants to spend at least a few years there 🙂