The flea allergy department.
The flea allergy is probably the most common allergy found in pets today. It
is characterised by severe itching, infammed skin and often hair loss (due to
the persistant scratching).This hair loss together with papules and pustules is
classically seen at the base of the tail and running up the back (dogs and cats)
as well as around the neck (cats).
The allergy is caused by a hypersensitivity reaction to flea saliva which penetrates the
animals skin while the flea feeds on the animal. The allergic response is fairly
swift and can remain quite intense even after all fleas have been removed from
Because it is an allergic reaction,each individual animal will react differently.
There is thus not necessarily any correlation
between the number of fleas on an animal and the clinical signs seen. Thus it is not uncommon
to have 2 pets in a household, one looking serene and pristine, the other
looking bedraggled and scratching like mad! The flea load in the environment will be the
same for both animals, but their response could be quite different.
, this condition will start off seasonally.
Fleas breed more during summer than winter, hence the environmental load of fleas tends to be
heavier in summer. The exception to this is of course if the animal is kept indoors
all year and heating prevents the environmental temperature from falling to any
significant degree during winter.However, as sensitised individuals grow older, the condition tends
to persist for longer until, especially in sub tropical climates, it can persist all year round.
A flea allergy has to be confronted on a number of fronts. Because fleas are an
environmental problem, it is impossible to successfully treat a flea allergy by
only treating the affected animal. All animals and the environment have
to be taken into account for there to be any chance of success.
For more information on
fleas, click here.
is fairly easy to diagnose, especially if presented in the early stages of the allergy,
the management of the condition can be challenging due to the complexity of allergies
and the multiple factors that need to be addressed to rid an environment of all fleas.
Unfortunately, in very sensitive individuals, just one little flea bite can blow
months of effort straight out the window! So be prepared.