Skin & Coat

Flea Allergy Dermatitis in Dogs: Things you need to know

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What is Flea Allergy Dermatitis?

Flea Allergy Dermatitis in dogs is an allergic skin disorder which occurs due to flea saliva hypersensitivity. It is the most common allergy in dogs. And is a very itchy and painful condition.

When a flea bites a dog or cat, it injects it’s saliva into the animal. Flea saliva contains many antigens. Which some dogs and cats are very susceptible to.

Close Up Of Fleas On Dog Hair
photowind /

Your dog may not have many fleas, but it only takes one bite from one flea to trigger the allergic reaction. So make sure to regularly check for fleas or ticks.

Flea allergy dermatitis in dogs is most common in the summer. Because in the northern hemisphere, that is when fleas are most prevalent. In countries with warmer climates, it can persist all year round. Cooler temperatures and low humidity tend to inhibit flea development.

What are the symptoms of flea allergy dermatitis in dogs?

The first symptom you may notice is severe itching and inflammation of the skin. The dog will scratch and bite at affected areas.

Oftentimes, causing damage to the skin which may develop into circular, red painful sores called hot spots. These hot spots can occur anywhere. But are most commonly seen along the back and at the base of the tail.

Hair Loss, A Symptom Of Flea Allergy Dermatitis In Dogs
Pingky_p /

As the condition progresses, the following symptoms may show up:

  • Hair loss
  • Broken hairs
  • Oozing or crusty sores
  • Pimply bumps
  • General redness and inflammation of the skin

The sores can be very painful. In severe cases, the skin becomes thickened and dark, predominantly in the area on the dog’s base of the tail. The dog, itself, does the damage with self mutilation due to the severe itching.

Secondary bacterial and yeast infections are common in chronic cases of flea allergy dermatitis in dogs. And you may notice an unpleasant odor coming from your dog because of this.

What is the treatment for flea allergy dermatitis in dogs?

Using flea collars and insecticide shampoos are generally a waste of time and money. These methods are very outdated. However, there are a variety of treatment that can help with flea allergy dermatitis in dogs.

Topical Spray Treatment For Flea Allergy Dermatitis In Dogs
fetrinka /

Topical spray treatments such as Cortavance Topical Spray Treatment is used for inflamed and itchy skin conditions in dogs.

It contains hydrocortisone aceponate, a type of steroid that works by direct application to the skin via a spray. It reduces inflammation – leading to skin that is less itchy, red and sore.

And you can consult your veterinarian on how Cortavance can help your dog.

Tablets for Killing Fleas on Dogs

Owner Feeding Dog Chewable Tablet For Flea Allergy Dermatitis In Dogs
Dmitriev Mikhail /

The following tablets are extremely useful in flea control. Find out more below:

1. Comfortis

Comfortis are chewable tablets for dogs. They are a meat flavored tablet that rapidly kills fleas on dogs. And then goes on to prevent flea infestations for a further month (or more). 

Comfortis starts to kill fleas within 30 minutes of administration and will kill 100% of fleas on a dog within 4 hours. They may be a little expensive, but are %100 effective and are FDA approved.

However, please note that side effects can occur. And vomiting is the most common side effect.

2. Panoramis

Panoramis is a chewable tablet that helps in prevent flea allergy dermatitis in dogs by doing the following:

  • Kills fleas
  • Treats and prevents infestations
  • Controls flea allergy dermatitis
  • Prevents heartworm disease
  • Treats and controls intestinal parasite infections (adult hookworm, roundworm, whipworm)

If you are buying it online, make sure to check that you are not buying counterfeit!

3. Bravecto

Bravecto is a soft chewable that is given every 12 weeks. It kills adult fleas, is indicated for the treatment and prevention of flea infestations and the treatment and control of tick infestations for 12 weeks. It also kills lone star ticks for 8 weeks.

Furthermore, this product claims to protect against the deadly paralysis tick for 4 months.

4. Ectoadvance Plus

Fipronil kills adult fleas and ticks, including those that transmit Lyme disease. It attacks flea eggs and disrupt their growth, therefore stopping their from developing into adults.

Furthermore, it rapidly eliminates infestations and has waterproof protection. It’s fast-acting and long-lasting.

However, this is only for dogs 8 weeks or older. Do not use it on cats.

Top Spot Flea Treatments

Dog Getting A Spot Treatment For Flea Allergy Dermatitis In Dogs
Anikin Dmitrii /

Top spot flea treatments can kill fleas within hours and therefore aid in eliminating flea allergy dermatitis in dogs. See list below:

  1. Advantage protects against fleas.
  2. Advantix protects against fleas and ticks.
  3. Frontline protects against fleas.
  4. Frontline Plus protects against fleas and ticks.
  5. Revolution protects against fleas, heartworm, hookworm and ear mites.

Treatments your vet may prescribe

Antibiotics and anti-fungal medication my be prescribed by your vet to treat the secondary bacterial or yeast infections. They may put your dog on a short course of prednisone to relieve the inflammation.

However, the only long term treatment for flea allergy dermatitis in dogs is total flea control. And not allowing one single flea to come in contact with your dog.


You must be absolutely dedicated in removing all fleas from your dog and the dog’s environment. Just one single flea can cause terrible symptoms. That’s why it is important to treat all of your pets and your home on the same day.

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