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Flea allergy dermatitis: a common problem with a simple solution

pet flea allergy dermatitis

You may not see any fleas on your pet, but if your pet has suddenly begun frantically scratching, biting or licking themselves, they may have flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), an allergic reaction to flea saliva.

Pets with FAD don’t have to be infested with fleas to be itchy—just a single flea bite can cause itching for days. Most pets feel minor local irritation from flea bites, but pets with FAD experience severe itching over large areas of their bodies. 

A secondary bacterial infection may also develop in areas of broken skin, exacerbating the problem.
They may scratch so much that noticeable amounts of hair falls out, especially at the base of their tail, where fleas like to bite. A secondary bacterial infection may also develop in areas of broken skin, exacerbating the problem.

Signs of FAD include:

  • Intense scratching
  • Hair loss around the tail base, neck and head
  • Chewing, licking and biting the hind end or hind legs
  • Scabs or open sores around the head and neck
  • Excessive grooming

Because flea infestations can occur year-round, FAD is not seasonal, which means that your pet can show these signs at any time.
Anti-itch medication can be used for short-term relief while a flea control medication is administered and works to reduce the flea count, but prevention of FAD is relatively simple and inexpensive. Monthly oral and topical flea preventives are an excellent way to keep your pet and home flea-free.


Browse Shop myVCA for a wide variety of convenient and effective parasite prevention options, several of which do not require a prescription>> 


Your VCA Animal Hospital health care team can help advise you on the best flea preventive for your pet and your local area.