Hot Spots on Dogs: What is Flea Allergy Dermatitis? What Do Fleas Have to Do With Hot Spots on Dogs?

BY | September 19 | COMMENTS PUBLISHED BY
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All it takes is one flea bite to cause Flea Allergy Dermatitis, which then leads to dog hot spots. Learn how to prevent FAD and treat hot spots on dogs here.

All it takes is one flea bite to turn your dogโ€™s life into a non-stop itchy nightmare. Seriously, just one bite can cause Flea Allergy Dermatitis, or FAD, which then can lead to hot spots on dogs and extreme discomfort for your pet.

What are Hot Spots on dogs?

Hot spots on dogs are infected patches of skin, usually found in a circular shape. Most times, these hot spots start small, caused by a flea bite or another type of irritation. However, what was a tiny welt soon can soon become a big wound if your dog keeps scratching and licking at it.

And your dog is going to want to scratch at it. The hot spot is going to itch so much that it will drive your pet nuts!

Not to worry. There are several steps you can take to prevent FAD, and there are several treatment options available if your pet already has a hot spot.

Treat your pet for fleas

Treating your pet for fleas is the best way to make sure they donโ€™t get FAD. Spot on treatments like K9 Advantix II and Frontline Plus for Dogs will kill the fleas currently on your pet, as well as the pestโ€™s larvae. These treatments also provide a monthโ€™s protection with each dose.

Many veterinarians suggest that you treat your dog year-round for fleas and ticks, but if you do not wish to do so, you can use our Flea & Tick Map, which uses historical weather data, to figure out when your regionโ€™s flea season is the most intense. If you choose to do this, you should begin treatment at least a few months before the peak of flea season to ensure your pet has proper protection.

Treat your home for fleas

Treating just your dog for fleas sometimes isnโ€™t enough if there has been a bug infestation. Fleas in your yard and your home can jump back onto your pet and make their life miserable yet again. These pests have a life cycle that can seem to go on forever, with some staying in the pupal stage for up to 12 months before emerging.

This means it can be important to treat your house for fleas. You can use various powders and foggers to get rid of the pests and their eggs, which may be in the corners and cracks of your home. In the most serious cases of infestation, your treatments for your house should be repeated every two weeks for six weeks.

In your yard, you can combat fleas by keeping the grass short and watering regularly. You can also use chemical remedies, such as an Insect Growth Regulator, to kill whatever flea population you might have living out there.

Treating the Hot Spot

If your dog already has a hot spot, you should take them to see a veterinarian as soon as possible. Your vet will hopefully be able to prescribe a treatment that will get your dog healthy again.

Before your visit to the vet, here are three things you can do to make your pet more comfortable:

  • You can clip the hair around the hot spot to allow more air to reach the inflamed area.
  • You can use a gentle dog shampoo to clean the area.
  • You can prevent your dog from licking the hot spot because their tongue carries bacteria and can be rough on the irritated area. In some cases, keeping your dog from licking the spot may require a cone collar.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis: Protect Your Dog's Skin

Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is the most common skin condition in dogs. Dogs can develop this allergy as early as their first year, and it most commonly starts when dogs are young - up to five years old. Dogs of any age can develop FAD, though, and the symptoms of flea allergies will worsen with age.

Fleas are parasites that evolved to puncture the skin of dogs for their blood meal. Dogs typically react to flea bites with itching, redness, and inflammation. But dogs who are allergic to flea bites will have more severe symptoms and a much stronger, prolonged sense of itchiness.

Causes of Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Dogs who are hypersensitive to flea bites are reacting to antigens in the fleaโ€™s saliva that their immune system does not recognize. Once bitten by a flea, the compounds in the flea saliva pass through the dogโ€™s skin, causing a reaction that produces severe itching, redness, and swelling.

Symptoms of Flea Allergy Dermatitis

When an allergic dog is exposed to flea saliva, the area will become red, bumpy, and inflamed. With even one or two bites, the dog will feel constant itchiness and discomfort. And in severe cases, dogs will develop lesions and experience hair loss. Dogs who are allergic to flea bites often do more damage by scratching and biting the inflamed skin affected by the flea saliva. This creates an environment on the skin that is ripe for infection and secondary disease.

How to Treat Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Flea allergy dermatitis cannot be cured, though desensitization therapy, like allergy shots,  is an option. Removing fleas completely is the most effective way to protect your dog from flea bites, thus eliminating the cause of the skin condition. There are many ways to prevent fleas from infesting your pet, home, and yard, as well as treatments to relieve skin conditions associated with the allergy.

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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Hot Spots Flea Allergy Dermatitis

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