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Flea or Allergy?

  • by Bec
  • 2 min read

My dog is scratching a lot. I don’t think its from fleas (or at least I haven’t seen any fleas on him) so could it be an allergy?

We had a similar question not long ago that might help in part to answer your question. Link below:

Dog Continuously Scratching

You mentioned that you don’t think his scratching is caused by fleas or that you haven’t seen any fleas on him, but this does not mean that the itching is not being caused by fleas. Flea allergy dermatitis can be caused by flea bites that have occurred in the previous weeks/months.

General distribution of where the dog is itching may suggest different causes but is not to be relied upon on for diagnosis. For example, itching at the base of the tail is suggestive of flea allergy dermatitis. Itching primarily on the chest/belly, between front and back legs and down the legs and between the toes is suggestive of a contact dermatitis (ie allergic to grass/house dust mites/anything the skin directly contacts). Many dogs have itchy ears and feet, and this distribution may be suggestive of a food allergy or atopic dermatitis (where dogs inhale small particles of the things they are allergic to and it comes out as an itching problem).

Many dogs have more than one type of allergy and if your dog is allergic in any way, the worst thing for it is to have any possibility of flea bites, so effective long term flea control would always be recommended for any itchy dog, regardless of cause. Secondary bacterial and fungal infections are also common with many allergic cases so treatment is often multi-faceted including treating the current problem and preventing future outbreaks.

Extensive testing by a veterinary dermatologist may be required to get a definite diagnosis of any of the types of allergies.

Other causes of itching other than fleas and allergies include bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections, occasionally auto-immune diseases and rarely cancers of the skin, all of which would need to be confirmed by your veterinarian.

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