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Posted on 06-23-2015

But I don’t see any fleas.

This is a common statement when I tell an owner their dog or cat has flea allergy dermatitis.  And “no fleas” is the most common presentation of flea allergy dermatitis.  Here’s why:

Flea allergy dermatitis is an allergic reaction to flea saliva left in the patient’s skin after a bite.  The symptoms of FAD are licking, scratching and chewing at the skin.  In dogs this is most often towards the tail end.  In cats it may be towards the front and back.  There may be red skin, red bumps and hair loss. In cats there is often a multitude of little scabs.

FAD may be a consequence of just one flea.  The manifestation of the allergy—licking, chewing, scratching—is all an attempt by the patient to remove the flea.  And, without treatment, the allergy may continue for weeks. 

So, knowing this, you can see why it is most common to not find any fleas on flea allergy patients.  They removed them long ago, and they have continued to do the work to remove them since.

Treatment for FAD often includes a short course of some version of prednisone.  Prevention is good, year ‘round flea control.

If you think this is going on, contact us.  And if you need good tips on flea control, please let us know.

Brian Peterson, DVM

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