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The Good Old DOG FLEA
Dog Flea Allergy

 

Dog Flea Allergy

People get bitten by dogs. Dogs get bitten by people. Only the dog flea allergy bites both.

Allergy Dermatitis In Dogs

 

 

It is uncommon for humans to need little more attention in a dog flea biting incident than a dash of lotion. In children, whose immune system is still developing symptoms can be a bit more severe, but there is little data on the subject. The cause of a reaction to a dog flea bite, as with most insect bites (which is a different matter than a sting) is because of the saliva of the pesky creature. It can and often does cause an allergic response. Except in rare cases, it is temporary and does no harm. More often, an allergic response might take on the form of a slight swelling or a bump which will disappear quickly enough if left undisturbed. As with any insect bite, scratching can make it worse, so hands off!

Human dog flea bites are most common in places where clothes are tight on the body, particularly the lower legs and around the waist... Although, I myself find that my nose and earlobes make tasty bites for the hateful and vicious dog flea.

In a perfect world, children are more prone to be allergic to flea bites than grownups, most likely because their immune system is still developing and hasn't had but few of the hits it will take over the course of a lifetime, so their allergy immunity well is very shallow indeed. However, allergies are a funny thing. All of us are only one bite away from a harsher reaction. There is no knowing when or if the next bug bite will go badly for us. But for most, being allergic to fleas is a temporary and mildly itchy condition that warrants little attention.

The dog flea bite itch is caused by the saliva of the little pest. Remember that the dog flea does not sting...it just lops up some of your blood, while in the meantime exchanging bodily fluids with you. Unfortunately, dog fleas and humans are not a match made in heave. Flea spit doesn't mix with human blood very well. We can only hope that we also give the little flea vermin a tummy ache in return!

A subject of much more study is the affect of dog flea bites on the dogs...

Dog fleas are bugs from beyond the bad place. Whatever galaxy they come from does things a little differently. Dog fleas attain adulthood in four stages. Eggs to larvae to pupae to adult. Only the adult dog flea feasts on Rover, and also master of Rover, if Rover is on a vacation.

As for dog fleas, there are basically two types of dogs. There are the dogs that could care less about fleas and then there are the dogs that get crazy when a flea lands on them. The second type of dog is the dog with dog flea allergies. He may also have other kinds of allergies too, including food allergies and environmental allergies...same as you and me if we get sneezy, achy, or swelling from certain foods or inhaled substances like pollen or dust. Dogs aren't immune from allergies. In an aside, we have a cat that sneezes all the time. Evidently, on top of everything else, she's allergic to cats. So Barky, if he's lucky won't have any allergies, or severe health problems and live to be 16 years old with 49 pups to his credit. Or he may be struck howling goofy by a single flea. It's the same thing we all face. Sometimes it just happens.

Dog fleas can cause what is called flea allergy dermatitis on Barky T. Dog. The active word is dermatitis, which means skin problem in Swahili. What you'll most likely see is that Barky is chewing more frequently, and hair around his rump section gets thinner and thinner. Like humans, some dogs have more allergies than others. If Barky is particular affected by dog fleas, it doesn't take but a few to drive him barking insane. Barky will proceed to chew off all of his butt hair, and leg hair too, thinking that either the hair is the problem, or clearing a path to more effective dog flea removal via his tongue. It doesn't matter which, really, because your once beautiful hairy dog quickly becomes a Mexican hairless. In these cases, it often hurts the master as much as the pooch, which leads to steroid injections at the vet. These expensive shots give only temporary (but AMAZING) relief, while at the same time damaging Barky internally. So, what's dogs best friend to do when Barky goes hairless??

The most common treatment to stop Barky from itching so badly that he chews off his hind parts is to just get rid of the darn dog fleas. Well, that's easier said than done. Do you stop at disinfecting your property, or should you hop the fence and eradicate all the dog fleas in your neighbor's yard as well? Stuff like that.

I mean this in a particularly cruel way... The object of stopping Barky's itching is NOT to eradicate YOUR suffering. It is about flea control, animal health, and is to help the dog. You have heard of Stupid Pet Tricks? What about Stupid Human Tricks? Which is worse for Barky? Is Barky worse off chewing off his hind end, or is he better off toes up at room temperature because his human master, the guy he trusts most, overdid the cure and killed him? You MUST use your common sense and the doctor's creed....first, do no harm.

For example, it is a fact that steroids will stop Barky from itching, thus making you feel better. However, over time, it will actually kill Barky dead as a smashed dog flea if overdone. The same can be said for many cures. You must think of what's best for the dog...and not yourself. Sometimes you just can't protect Barky from nature. All it really takes to make Barky nuts is just one measly flea. Just one. And you can't always get rid of all the fleas. Sometimes you and Barky just have to live with the pain. Something to chew on.

However, there are common sense things you can do. 

  • Consider pet food allergies. Might Barky have an allergy to his daily meals? Change out the usual food for something new...and mono. Make it all of one thing....be it pig meat, wheat free, strictly fish, cornflakes, whatever.... Just make sure that you don't use a dog food blend. This sort of elimination diet is the only way you will be able to come to a conclusion. So what does this have to do with dog fleas? Well, it might be that Barky is scratching because he's allergic to the corn component in his Barky Blend dog food. Or it might be that a food allergy exacerbates the dog flea problem. You can't be too creative if you love your dog.
  • Environmental allergies. Your dog may be suffering from the same kind of allergies that people have. In the spring, blooming trees. In the fall, ragweed. Things like that. While dogs are animals, and closer to the earth...it can happen. In the wild, ol Barky wouldn't last long, but in the loving atmosphere he most likely inhabits at your house, things can rock on for a long time.
  • Bacterial allergies. This is one that only your vet can diagnose and treat.

I'll leave you with one dog flea itch treatment that worked for us. Please keep in mind that if you try this and Barky falls over and dies, you were warned. Any time you try a new cure for your pet, you must remember that it can kill your pet. Most often not, but things happen. Same with you. Each time you lop up a new drug prescription that your doctor give you, if you'll read the literature, you'll find that there is, however small, a statistical risk that you'll be the one out of four million who assumes room temperature on the first dose.

Keeping my stern warning in mind, you must be keep your pet under big time surveillance as you try this. This is for the dog who has dog flea allergies and is to the point of steroids. Before you go that route, try Benadryl. Below, from VetPets.net, a paragraph that cracked me up...

Diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) – Dogs and cats can be given 1-2 mg/lb every eight hours. This can be used to treat allergic reactions, and it also has some anti-anxiety and anti-vertigo effects. As a general rule, it is pretty safe stuff. The primary side effect is drowsiness, so please do not allow your pet to drink alcohol or operate heavy machinery while taking it.

Do further research on the net, and if in doubt about the dosage or advisability, contact your vet. It is vastly important that you make SURE that you give you dog ONLY 100% pure Diphenhydramine. It's no big deal to get it at Walmart over the counter. But it must be Benadryl only, and not a MIX. Read the package particulars very carefully to make sure it doesn't contain other ingredients. On premises, if in doubt, speak to the pharmacist.

There aren't many human medicines that you should feel good about giving your dog, but of them, Benadryl is a better choice. You have the benefit of knowing that it's been used before. For other medicines, do not experiment.
It made a huge difference in our dog. She stopped suffering so badly, and her hair even started coming back in. It's a great feeling when you discover something that works.

Dog flea allergy, along with dog dermatitis is a nasty business, but there are ways you can combat it after you have done everything you can do to eliminate the fleas that cause the problem in the first place. Go forth knowing that many have gone before, and there is a wealth of information, however imperfect, for you to use in your doggie allergy battle. 

 

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