Prevent & treat Flea Bite Dermatitis!

Are you treating your pets regularly with flea control products? Is your dog or cat still itching, scratching and biting his skin?

Pet owners often complain that even though they are using flea control products, their pet can’t stop itching and scratching. Some pets develop an allergic reaction to the bite of a flea’s saliva. This is called flea bite dermatitis.

It causes them lots of skin problems and discomfort when left untreated. Conventional treatment, such as anti-histamines and cortisone can cause more health problems in the long term – but what to do to help your poor dog or cat and relieve the discomfort?

We take a look at a natural approach that can help.

Here are some common questions that pet owners usually want to know about flea bite dermatitis.

1. What is flea bite dermatitis?

A flea bite allergy is the most common allergy found in both dogs and cats. This allergy can start at any age but usually develops when dogs and cats are still quite young.

As some pets are more sensitive than others to a flea bite, just being exposed to one flea can cause a nasty allergic reaction.

Fleas live all year-round and as a result, pets with a flea bite allergy are always susceptible to an attack, although the problem usually becomes worse in warmer months.
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2.   How to tell if my pet has flea bite dermatitis?

 If your dog or kitty is allergic to fleas, you need to know what symptoms to watch out for.

Flea bite dermatitis in dogs and cats causes severe itching and scratching of the skin – this is referred to as a condition called pruritis and often persists even after using flea control products.

Dogs in particular, often become so uncomfortable from all the itching and scratching that they resort to biting, licking, chewing and gnawing at their skin until it is red or even raw.

They may experience hair loss and thickening of the skin. Sometimes bumps, scabs or hotspots will develop on the skin especially at the base of the tail, along the tail, thighs and on the abdominal area. In some cases, dogs can also develop behavioural issues as a result of flea bite dermatitis.

Cats also itch and scratch profusely but tend to lick themselves excessively. The excessive licking causes hair loss and they may develop crusty sores, particularly over their back area.  
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3. What causes flea bite dermatitis?

Dogs and cats develop a hypersensitivity or an allergy to flea saliva.
When a flea bites your dog or cat, the saliva from that one bite is injected into the skin as it feeds and immediately causes excessive itching and scratching.

Not all dogs and cats react this way to a flea bite and can actually tolerate a few fleas nibbling on them.

Unfortunately, pets that are allergic to fleas simply cannot handle even one of them and end up suffering terribly. This makes flea prevention in dogs and cats suffering from an allergy to fleas even more important!
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4. How is flea bite dermatitis prevented and treated?

In order to prevent recurring episodes of flea bite dermatitis, it is important to follow a strict flea control program, treating your pet, as well as the environment, both inside and outside of your home.

• Treat fleas on pets

Control fleas on your pets by treating them all year round – not only in the ‘flea season’.

Many people prefer to use natural flea control products, rather than chemical flea pesticides. This may work well in a low flea environment and for dogs and cats that are not sensitive to fleas.

However, pets that suffer from flea bite dermatitis can react to even one flea bite, which makes their lives very uncomfortable. Dogs and cats with flea bite dermatitis therefore need a more rigorous flea control program.

The most effective way is to prevent and treat fleas is to use a vet recommended flea treatment. There are a wide variety of products available in the form of a tablet, topical application or spray that should be used to treat your dog or cat every four weeks if you want the best results.

Be careful NEVER to use the same flea treatment that you would use for a dog for a cat and vice versa as this can be potentially fatal – especially for cats! Check for fleas regularly on your dog or cat by using a flea comb.
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• Keep the inside and outside of your home flea-free

As important as it is to treat your pet for fleas, you also have to treat your home too! Fleas don’t always stay on the host, they jump off and settle everywhere – in your carpets, curtains, bedding, floor boards and clothing.

Vacuum carpets, wooden floors and furniture thoroughly which will pick up any flea eggs. Wash your bedding if your pet sleeps on your bed as well as all pet bedding in the washing machine using hot water (60 degrees C) to remove eggs and larvae – this should be done once weekly.

Use a flea repellent spray or a flea repellent powder indoors and outdoors to prevent and treat a flea infestation. Don’t forget to treat shady and sandy areas in your garden and yard as fleas like to breed there too. 
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5. Can natural remedies help to prevent and treat fleas?

Natural remedies work very well and can be used together with conventional flea medications when used to treat fleas. Here is how you can incorporate a holistic approach for your dog and cat with flea bite allergies.

The role of the immune system

Did you know that a strong and healthy immune system helps to protect your pet against flea infestations? A dog or cat with a weakened immune system is more susceptible to infestation by all types of parasites, such as fleas, ticks and even intestinal worms!

Keeping your pet healthy is the best way to protect  them from being attacked by fleas and this can be done by boosting their immune system naturally with Immunity & Liver Support from Feelgood Pets.

Feed your dog or cat a healthy, well balanced diet which contains all the essential vitamins and minerals. Choose 100% organic foods, free of preservatives and colourants and packed with yummy goodness such as Grandma Lucy's Artisan Chicken.
Visit the Feelgood Health shop, Unit 6, Westlake Lifestyle Centre, Westlake, Cape Town for DoggoBone Active Raw Food and Vondi’s Cooked Food for dogs and cats.

For pets that have developed flea bite dermatiitis, Bathe your dog using Vondi's Tick & Flea Pet Shampoo, a gentle, cleansing and natural shampoo with Khakibos which helps to prevent and treat pesky fleas.
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Treating flea bite dermatitis and allergies naturally

Pets with skin problems caused by flea bite allergies will experience itching, scratching and hair loss. Once your cat or dog has developed a skin problem due to flea bite allergies, it is important to treat the problem to relieve discomfort, but also to prevent further complications and possible infection.

Herbal and homeopathic remedies for itchy skin problems in dogs and cats can be very effective against persistent itchy skin, as opposed to conventional chemical treatments with unwanted side effects.

Dose dogs and cats with Allergy Itch Ease, a 100% homeopathic remedy to treat itching and scratching of the skin quickly and effectively. Add Skin & Coat Tonic, a herbal remedy which heals and strengthens the condition of the skin.

The combination of Allergy Itch Ease and Skin & Coat Tonic will help to ease discomfort, prevent itching and heal and strengthen the skin. However, it is also important to address the allergic reaction itself.

If your pet has an allergy, try AllergiClear Pets which acts as a natural antihistamine and will alleviate the allergic response to flea saliva and other allergens,  such as dietary allergens or an allergy to pollen, grass or household chemicals – as all of these can be culprits in the development of itchy skin in dogs and cats!

Using these natural remedies in combination with regular flea control program, a well balanced diet and exercise will guarantee you a healthy, happy flea-free pet!
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