Summer is upon us, and that means more pets are arriving to the animal hospital with allergies and corresponding clinical signs. Oftentimes, their itchy skin and hair loss is related to fleas. These small parasites are frequently found outdoors and can jump on a dog while he or she is sunbathing, taking a walk, or playing ball. An allergic reaction to the saliva can occur in sensitive dogs when a flea bites, leading to intense itching, hair loss, and inflamed skin. This can be incredibly uncomfortable!
If your dog is experiencing itchy skin or losing hair, it is best to see a veterinarian for a thorough physical exam. A flea comb can be used to identify any live fleas or flea dirt (feces of fleas). The most common distribution of hair loss and inflamed skin secondary to flea allergies is on the rear end near the tail base and down the hind legs. Absence of fleas or flea dirt does not necessarily rule out flea allergy dermatitis. When a dog goes outside, a flea can still jump on, bite, and trigger a reaction.
Flea prevention is essential year-round to prevent infestations and these secondary signs. Once present, fleas can be difficult to treat due to their extended life cycle. Schedule a visit with your pet’s veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns about fleas or preventative options.