PetPlace.com Flea Allergy Dermatitis in Cats - Page 1

My Pet: FREE Tools to Care for Your Pet and Connect with Others


Over 10,000 Vet Approved Articles Search All Articles

Flea Allergy Dermatitis in Cats

By: Dr. Rosanna Marsalla

Read By: Pet Lovers
Email To A Friend Print
Flea allergy dermatitis is the most common allergy in cats and is caused by flea bites, specifically the saliva of the flea. It is a very itchy disease and predisposes to the development of secondary skin infections.

Oddly enough, most animals with flea allergy have very few fleas – because they are so itchy, they groom themselves excessively, eliminating any evidence of fleas. However, a couple of flea bites every two weeks are sufficient to make a flea allergic cat itchy all the time. Any animal can become allergic to fleas, although some cats are more attractive to fleas than others.

Fleas are bloodsucking insects with a life span of 6 to 12 months. This life span is influenced by environmental conditions and can vary from two to three weeks up to a year. Optimal conditions include humidity of 75 to 85 percent and temperature of 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity is more important than the temperature. The adult flea spends most of its life on the host, while the immature stages (eggs) are found in the environment.

What to Watch For

  • Severe itching
  • Chewing and biting of the tail, rump, back legs and occasionally front legs
  • Oozing lesions (lick granuloma) from chewing
  • Hot spots on the hips or face, which is severe skin damage from scratching

    Diagnosis

    Flea allergy dermatitis is a common cause of itchiness and scratching in cats, but other medical problems can lead to similar symptoms. Other disorders that must be excluded are:

  • Food allergy
  • Atopy
  • Trauma or other cause of local skin irritation
  • Sarcoptic mange
  • Cheyletiellosis (a mite infestation)
  • Otitis externa (ear infection)
  • Primary keratinization defects

    Some pets may have more than one medical problem. For example, scratching or biting due to flea irritation can cause a "hot spot" (acute moist dermatitis") and secondary bacterial skin infection (pyoderma) can follow.

    Diagnosis of flea allergy is made based on history, clinical signs and a positive response to flea control.

    Treatment

    Treatment of flea allergy dermatitis involves three phases:

  • Prevention of flea bites. The most important part of treatment is preventing flea bites with aggressive flea control on your cat and in the environment.

  • Treatment of secondary skin infections. Antibiotics and antifungal drugs may be necessary to treat secondary skin infections triggered by the flea allergy.

  • Breaking the itch cycle. If your cat is intensely itchy, a short course of steroids may be necessary to break the itch cycle and make your cat more comfortable.

    Preventative Care

    Use an effective safe flea control product on your cat on a regular basis beginning one month before the flea season starts and continuing up until one month after the flea season ends.

    Use frequent vacuuming and carpet cleaning strategies to remove eggs and larvae from the cat's indoor environment. Use a professional cleaning or exterminating service in difficult cases.

    See your veterinarian promptly if your cat develops acute skin lesions (acute moist dermatitis) as a result of biting or scratching at fleas. Frequent grooming of your cat with a "flea comb" may be helpful to remove fleas.

  • Comment & Share
    Email To A Friend Print
    Keep reading! This article has multiple pages.

    Cat Photos Enjoy hundreds of beautiful cat photos Let's Be Friends Follow Us On Facebook Follow Us On twitter

    Close

    Email to a Friend

    Article to eMail
    Flea Allergy Dermatitis in Cats




    Thanks!
    Close
    My Pet
    Coming Soon

    Tools to Care for Your Pet and
    Connect with Others!

    Be the First to Know.
    Notify Me