You may be unaware that the most common skin problems that affect pets are actually caused by fleas. Conditions like itchy skin, hot spots, excessive scratching, and bald spots are often a result of an allergic reaction to flea bites’ saliva, referred to as “flea dermatitis”.
Once the flea bites and injects its saliva into the dog or cat, an allergic reaction starts and the site quickly becomes red, inflamed and extremely itchy.
The worst damage is done by the pet itself due to biting or chewing at the site – usually for prolonged periods. This can result in skin lesions and hair loss.
These allergies are often so severe that even one flea can cause your dog or cat great discomfort.
- Extreme itching
- Skin eruptions including hot spots
- Skin crusts
- Small pimple-like bumps
- Hair loss
- Hair that appears broken or damaged
Fleas are great at hiding and it usually takes a full-blown invasion to see the telltale signs.
One way to check for fleas is to cover pet’s bedding with a piece of white fabric and then check it for flea droppings.
These will appear like tiny dark specks and can be as small as a grain of sand. Flea droppings actually contain your pet’s dried blood. To be on the safe side, if your pet is experiencing any skin discomfort, take measures to eradicate fleas (even if you don’t see any), by following these steps:
- Remove possible pests from your pet by shampooing with a natural product like Neem Shampoo.
Neem oil is a natural pesticide and insect repellent found in the Neem tree and is safe for pets. Neem Shampoos do not contain potentially harmful chemical insecticides like pyrethrins or DEET. Neem has the added benefit of soothing irritated skin.
- Wash all pet bedding and thoroughly vacuum all upholstery and carpets. Remove vacuum cleaner bag and dispose of it outside your house to keep trapped fleas and eggs from hatching and re-entering.
- Keep fleas away naturally by adding B vitamins and dry garlic to your pet’s diet. They make your dog or cat’s skin less appealing to parasites and are a safe alternative to chemical repellants. In areas where fleas are epidemic, it may be necessary to also spray with a natural flea repellant before allowing your pet outdoors.
Soothe the Itch It may be necessary to provide topical treatments until the irritation subsides. Applying pure aloe vera juice or giving baths in colloidal oatmeal or neem shampoo can help your pet feel less itchy and let the healing process begin.
Oral supplements may also help relieve the itching and irritation. Quercetin is a powerful antioxidant known primarily for its cardiovascular protective properties, but it is also an effective histamine blocker and it is safe for pets.
Another possibility is fish oil. It is a natural anti-inflammatory and does wonders for a pet’s coat. Fish oil has many health benefits and is a great addition to a proactive health regimen for your dog or cat.
If the above measures do not eliminate your pet’s skin problems, you may have to consider calling in pest control to eradicate fleas once and for all.