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Flea Bite Problems for Dogs

by Ron Kurtus (revised 19 June 2017)

Flea bites are a common problem concerning dogs during the summer.

Most dogs that go outside in areas used by other dogs or animals can catch fleas. When fleas are on your dog, the female fleas bite the animal to get blood needed for them to lay eggs. The bite can cause itching and cause your dog to scratch the area of the bite.

In some cases the dog may become allergic to the flea bites, resulting in excessive scratching or biting around the area. This can even result in skin infections.

In cases of extreme flea infestation, young dogs can lose enough blood to become anemic. Tapeworms is another problem if the dog happens to ingest a flea.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions. Animal Health Disclaimer



Common result of flea bites

When a flea bites an animal or person, its saliva goes into the bite area. Reaction to the saliva can cause itching that may last for a few days.

Dogs, cats, and other animals will scratch, lick, and even chew on the flea bite area. For dogs, this area is usually around the tail, groin, backside, or around the neck.

The fleas bite to get blood needed for laying flea eggs on the host. Unless the fleas and eggs are eradicated, the cycle will continue. Once you get rid of the fleas on your dog—as well as in your house and yard—the scratching should subside.

Allergic reaction

Some dogs develop an allergic reaction to flea bites and the related flea saliva. This is called flea bite hypersensitivity or flea allergic dermatitis. The resulting excessive scratching, licking, and chewing the area can cause painful sores and bacterial skin infections. Scabs and hair loss are often seen on your dog.

As few as one or two flea bites a week can cause the allergic reaction, and the symptoms will often persist even after the fleas have been eliminated.

When your dog's skin is inflamed because of flea allergy dermatitis, it can be vulnerable to infection. This can cause more scratching and chewing, leading to a vicious cycle that can compound the allergic reaction.

If you suspect flea allergy dermatitis, you should bring your dog to your vet and have the animal examined. Medication can relieve the malady.

Other possible problems

Other possible problems from fleas include anemia and tapeworms.

Anemia

If a young outdoor puppy becomes heavily infected with fleas, their bites can take enough blood from the pup to cause a low red blood cell count and anemia. Sometimes blood transfusions are required, and a good flea control program is necessary.

Tapeworms

Fleas can sometimes be intermediate hosts for tapeworms. If your dog ingests such a flea, the animal can end up with tapeworm infestation. Tapeworm eggs can then end up in your dog's bedding.

A vet can prescribe a dewormer purposely crafted to kill tapeworms.

Other diseases

Fleas can carry other diseases—some that can be transmitted to humans. The most notable is bubonic plague. However, dog fleas typically do not transmit that disease.

Summary

Most dogs that go outside can catch fleas, then then bite the animal to get blood needed for the flea to lay eggs. The bite can cause your dog to scratch the area of the bite. In some cases the dog may become allergic to the flea bites, resulting in excessive scratching or biting around the area. This can even result in skin infections.

In cases of extreme flea infestation, young dogs can lose enough blood to become anemic. Tapeworms is another problem if the dog happens to ingest a flea.


Be diligent about protecting your animal's health


Resources and references

Ron Kurtus' Credentials

Websites

Flea Prevention Guide - PetBucket.com

Flea Control and Flea Bite Allergies in Dogs - PetMD.com

Possible Side Effects of Flea Bites in Dogs

Flea Allergy Dermatitis in Cats and Dogs - Vet Street

Tapeworm Infection in Dogs - VCA Animal Hospitals

How Fleas Work - HowStuffWorks.com

Pet Health Resources

Books

Top-rated books on Pet Health


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