Studies have shown that there are over 15 different antigens in the saliva of the flea. Each one of these is capable of causing an allergic response in a sensitive cat or dog. Despite recent advances in flea control, flea bite allergies still continue to be a common problem.
Preventing flea bites is critical for pets with flea allergies:
Cats and dogs rarely become desensitized to flea bites once they develop an allergy. Cats and dogs that are not sensitive to flea bites rarely develop lesions from the bites, but may bite or scratch at the flea when it bites them. Some studies have shown that up to 40% of dogs in any given area will test positive for flea bite allergies. Other studies show, that many dogs with flea allergies also have inhalant allergies compounding the problem. There does not appear to be a breed or sex predilection for this allergy.
Flea bite allergy is characterized by being a seasonal allergy that is worse during peak flea times in the summer and fall. Even in temperate areas or in cases with home infestations, the symptoms of flea bite allergies appear to worsen in the summer and fall. Cats that have flea allergies will bite at the base of their tail and scratch frequently. The bite of a single flea can cause hours and days of intense itching. Many cats have a characteristic loss or thinning of hair above the base of the tail. In addition, fleas or flea dirt (feces) can be found on the cat the majority of the time. The feces, or flea dirt will dissolve into a red color when moistened; this is because it is primarily digested blood. However, if the cat is bathed or treated regularly, very little evidence of fleas may be found. Severely affected cats may itch over their entire bodies, have generalized hair loss, and red inflamed skin. Hot spots are often a result of flea bite allergies.
Flea bite allergy is characterized by being a seasonal allergy that is worse during peak flea times in the summer and fall.
Cats with flea allergy dermatitis can have a wide spectrum of symptoms including miliary dermatitis, which is characterized by crusty papules (small, red, raised skin lesions), symmetrical hair loss (alopecia), and eosinophilic plaques and linear granulomas.
Diagnosis can be made by visual signs in combination with the presence of fleas or through intradermal skin testing. Intradermal skin testing is a very effective diagnostic tool for this particular allergy, although some false negativ
68 mths ago