What is it?
• Flea allergic dermatitis (FAD) is the result of an immunologic response to flea saliva.
• It is an extremely itchy rash that arises in both dogs and cats.
• The condition is typically seasonal (late Spring until late Autumn), but can occur year-round in warmer areas.
What causes it?
• Following exposure to fleas, dogs and cats can get a skin irritation (dermatitis) that is caused by the insect’s saliva.
• Clinical signs in dogs include moderate to severe itchiness, little red bumps on the surface of the skin and ears, and any self-trauma that may result from biting and scratching.
• In cats, clinical signs are head and neck scratching, red lesions on the belly, and tiny bumps with scabs on the neck and other areas of the cat.
What tests are needed?
• Physical examination of clinical signs is typically enough to diagnose an animal.
• Veterinarians may use a flea comb to check for the presence of fleas and flea feces (flea “dirt”).
How is it treated?
• There are topical agents available such as flea baths and sprays that can be used.
• Oral products be administered for immediate reduction in flea number on your pet.
• Severe trauma to the skin resulting from itchiness may need to be treated immediately with steroids and antibiotics.
• Pets should be treated with a monthly flea prevention medication to avoid any future infection.
What follow up care is needed?
• Pet owners should always participate in a flea prevention program with their veterinarian.
• There are many flea control products available (such as adulticides that kill adult fleas, juvenile hormone analogues that kill flea larvae, and insect growth regulators that prevent eggs from hatching) that can help prevent your animal from contracting fleas.
• Ask your doctor for flea prevention products for your pet.