Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is one of the most common skin diseases of both dogs and cats. FAD is an allergic reaction to flea saliva, which is injected into the skin when a flea bites. In animals with FAD, even a single flea bite can cause severe itchiness.
Most animals with FAD will be most itchy around the tail base and back, but can be itchy anywhere on the body. FAD is most common in summer but can occur at any time of year. Pets suffering from FAD will bite, chew and lick their skin continually. This can lead to many secondary problems, such as hair loss, skin pigmentation, sores and skin infections.
If your pet has never shown signs of FAD before, the best option is to use a product such as Sentinel Spectrum (a chewable tablet) monthly. This breaks the flea life cycle but does not actually kill fleas. The best way to prevent FAD is to allow low level exposure to flea saliva over time – Sentinel achieves this aim.
Initially we will prescribe an 'anti-itch' medication, but this is only a short-term solution. Long-term, the focus will be on preventing exposure to fleas.
If your pet does suffer from FAD, you will need a product that kills adult fleas. Frontline Plus (a spot-on) and Advocate (a spot-on) are good options, but sometimes we do see 'breakthrough' with these products. If this is the case, you should change to Comfortis (a chewable tablet), which provides highly reliable protection for a full month.
You will need to make sure that all animals in your household are on flea prevention products, and you should also vacuum the house and wash all your pet's bedding to get rid of as many flea eggs as possible. You might also consider 'flea-bombing' the house, or at least the rooms where your pets spend the most time.
Yes. High flea burdens are a problem even for pets that are not allergic, because each time a flea bites, it sucks a small amount of blood. If an animal suffers enough flea bites, it will become anaemic (have a low red blood cell count). Not only that, but fleas are easily transmissible from animal to animal, so if your pet is not protected against fleas any other animals with which your pet comes into contact will be at risk of developing FAD or anaemia.
Here you can find information and advice about common problems and diseases. Please remember, though, that this information can't replace a visit to the vet!