Do you suspect your dog may have a flea rash on his belly? You might be right, but you should check with the veterinarian for a diagnosis. Your dog can have any one of several skin conditions. They can be caused by anything from medical conditions to food allergies.
Skin problems are hard to diagnose from a quick glance. Before you can fix the problem, you need to know what it is. This post will guide you through the common causes of skin rash in dogs.
If your dog has fleas and he/she is itching like mad, there’s a good chance that what you’re seeing is a flea rash.
Confused? Keep reading and we’ll sort it out for you. By the end of this post you’ll have a better understanding of what a flea rash looks like and how to get rid of it.
Common Causes of Itchy Rash in Dogs
The following list will give you an idea of the numerous causes of rash on dogs.
There’s nothing worse than watching your furry friend dig at himself because of an itch that won’t go away. The more he/she does that, the better chance of the skin breaking open and becoming infected.
Other Dog Skin Conditions
There are some other skin conditions you might confuse for a flea rash. Reactions to other types of insect bites are a major one.
Mites can cause rashes that look similar to flea rashes.
If your dog has frequent skin allergies, he can develop hot spots, hair loss, or bacterial infections from any insect bites, not just fleas.
The appearance of the bites is one way to tell the difference. To rule out tick bites, inspect your dog’s skin to see if there is a tick attached.
Other skin conditions that cause rashes on your dog include:
Mosquito bites can cause your dog to itch. The worst thing about mosquitoes is that they carry parasites. If you live in an area where there is heartworm, you need to:
a) Have your dog tested for heartworms because they can be contracted through the bite of an infected mosquito.
b) When given the all-clear, begin a regular regime to prevent and protect your dog from this potentially deadly parasite.
Fungal infections can be caused by environmental factors. Your dog can develop a fungal infection through contact with other animals. It can also develop from an overgrowth of yeast (fungi) from the body.
Your dog could have a systemic fungal infection (affect’s your dog’s bodily system) or a localized fungal infection (seen on the skin and causes itch).
Some dogs inherit atopic dermatitis. These dogs usually show symptoms of the condition when they are very young. Breeds like Golden Retrievers, Lhasa Apsos, Irish Setters, Dalmatians, Bulldogs, and Old English Sheep dogs are typically more prone.
The patchy, dry and crusty lesions caused by atopic dermatitis are often seen on the dog’s feet, flanks, ears, armpits and groin.
This is rare, but dogs can be affected by poison ivy.
A heat rash occurs in dogs who are overheated. This is especially a concern in brachycephalic breeds who have wrinkled folds of tender skin.
Seasonal allergies are more likely to cause signs of respiratory distress. This includes sneezing and water eyes. It can, however, cause dogs to itch.
Sarcoptic mange is a zoonotic disease.
That means it can be transmitted from pets to people. You may know it better by the name “scabies”. In this case, mites burrow into the skin where they feed. It can spread to the whole body and cause unbearable itch.
Other conditions that can lead to a skin rash on your dog include dandruff or dry skin, ringworm, pyoderma, and seborrhea.
Last but not least is the flea rash. Keep reading for details on exactly what you need to watch for.
It’s common for dogs to be allergic to flea saliva. When they bite, it causes the dog’s skin to become extremely itchy and irritated. If left untreated, it can lead to serious skin infections.
Why Do Flea Rashes Occur?
A flea rash is also called flea allergy dermatitis. It’s an allergic reaction – not to flea bites themselves, but to flea saliva.
It is the most common skin disease in North American dogs. If your furry friend has an allergic reaction to the flea saliva, he/she will develop intense itching.
Dogs with flea allergy dermatitis have a reaction to the antigens or proteins in the flea saliva.
Pet parents sometimes mistakenly believe that if they can’t see any fleas, there must be none around. What they don’t realize is that fleas only stick around long enough to get a good feed.
From there they may jump to other animals or burrow into your household furniture. It only takes one flea bite to cause serious skin rashes.
How Are Flea Allergies Diagnosed?
You’ll need to take your dog to a licensed veterinarian for a check-up. The doctor will assess your dog for signs of fleas. One clue is frequently itching and hair loss in that area.
Flea rashes tend to occur from the middle of the dog’s back to the base of the tail. It can also occur down the rear legs.
If required, the veterinarian may perform something called an intradermal allergy test. These types of blood tests can confirm whether your dog is allergic to flea saliva. In some cases, the doctor doesn’t even need to do a test. He/she has seen this so many times before that they often know what it is right away.
What Is The Treatment for A Flea Rash
The best way to get rid of a flea rash is to get rid of the fleas. You can use flea combs and other non-chemical means. However, if your dog is suffering, the best thing to do is kill off the fleas right away. This can only be done through a prescription.
There are, however, some medications that do not require a prescription. They are useful at quickly killing a flea infestation but are not good to use as ongoing treatment.
How Do Dogs Get Fleas?
Dogs can get fleas from the following:
- Being outside, especially around overgrown shrubbery and unkempt yards
- Being near flea-infested animals
- Being on a bed, carpet, or furniture with flea eggs on it
- Licking their paws after being on flea-infested items
- Going to a dog park or grooming salon where there are flea-infested dogs
Although fleas may be less active during cold months, this does not mean that they shouldn’t be a concern. Also, there’s a common misconception that they can’t come into homes, which isn’t true.
Not only can adult fleas be brought indoors, but fleas can live indoors as eggs, larvae, and pupae.
Although fleas at any life stage can be in household furniture or fabric, adult fleas can’t live long without feeding on a host. They also lay eggs in dog fur.
Evidence of Fleas on Dogs
You will see signs of fleas even if you don’t see the fleas themselves. Dried, crumbly brown flea dirt (droppings) and pale yellow-white flea eggs are one, as are spots of blood and flea bites.
Adult fleas are the size of sesame seeds and jump. They are dark brownish-red in color, especially if they’ve recently fed.
Flea bites are most often on the groin and armpits. They are small, raised red spots with discolored rings around them and are usually not single, standalone bites.
Unusual restlessness in your dog from being irritated is another sign. Your dog will bite, lick, scratch, and chew himself as a result.
Skin conditions such as flea rash, hair loss, hot spots, and yeast and bacterial infections can appear as a result of flea bites.
Anemia happens when fleas suck too much blood and your dog doesn’t have enough red blood cells. Your dog will have pale gums and/or have a pale tongue and be weak if he’s anemic. He may also have a hard time breathing and his heart will be faster than normal, or he won’t want to eat.
Tapeworms will appear in your dog’s feces if he swallows fleas that have tapeworm eggs.
How to Treat a Flea Rash
The best way to treat flea rash in your dog involves first getting rid of the fleas regardless of their life stage. Fortunately, you can get rid of eggs, larvae, pupae, and adult fleas all at the same time.
Prescription Flea & Tick Prevention
There are a number of flea powders, dips, shampoos, sprays, spot treatments, collars, and prevention products available for exactly this purpose. Use a combination for throughness and best results.
Visit your veterinarian for input on getting rid of fleas. Your dog may need a prescription in addition to an over-the-counter treatment.
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Next, you must completely get the fleas out of your home. Start by washing all of your dog’s beds and soft toys in very hot, soapy water.
Wash all of your bedding and fabric items in hot, soapy water as well.
Vacuum all flooring, curtains, and upholstered furniture and throw away the vacuum bag. Repeat to kill the fleas in all life stages.
Vacuum your car seats. Even if your dog hasn’t been in the car recently, humans may transfer fleas, which can hide in clothes.
Exterminate the House
Call a local exterminator. Alternately, use an environmental flea control spray or fogger in your home.
Apply a nontoxic flea treatment, pellets, or spray to your yard. Maintain your yard by cutting the grass and trimming shrubbery, and consider using patch fences to keep wild animals away.
Treat your dog with a monthly flea preventative to make sure fleas don’t come back.
Bathing and flea treatments are usually enough to get rid of the itching and start healing the rash. However, your dog might need a product for the painful swelling and inflammation from any lingering hot spots.
Flea season is during the warm months when the flea eggs hatch and fleas look for hosts, so the parasites are at their most plentiful. They can, however, last year round in many places.
Keeping Your Dog’s Skin Healthy
Skin conditions are not only bad for your dog, but they cost you time and money to treat. It’s important to keep your dog’s skin healthy with a combination of care methods:
Your dog’s food is a huge source of nutrition that affects his skin, so make sure he has a balanced diet for his breed and size.
Supplements for skin are even better, especially if your dog already has issues. Note: Check with your veterinarian because some supplements can interfere or cause problems if your dog is on other forms of medication.
Dogs with long fur don’t show skin conditions easily. Set a grooming schedule and inspect his skin on a regular basis.
Even if your dog has short fur, you should bathe your dog regularly. Once a month is all he needs to keep his fur and skin healthy.
Even if using a monthly topical or oral treatment for fleas and ticks, you can also use an inexpensive flea comb to speed up the process.
Wash & Sterile Dog Toys
Wash your dog’s bed and toys regularly. Soft toys can harbor pathogens and parasites, so every 2 weeks or after a week of intense play is a good rule of thumb.
Take your dog to the vet on a regular basis. Even if he seems to be healthy, a checkup every 6 months will make sure there’s nothing going on.
Clean the House
Keep your house clean. Parasites such as mites, fleas, and bed bugs hide in clutter, while dirt and mess can expose your dog to pathogens, antigens, or irritating chemicals.
The 5 Signs of a Flea Rash
Symptoms of flea bites combined with certain things will tell you whether or not your dog has a flea rash:
Scratching and licking
A dog who is constantly scratching and licking themselves is often the first sign of a flea rash developing. Your dog will continue to do so regularly.
Often, your dog will scratch and lick himself in one or more particular spots. Look at these spots to see if there is a flea rash.
Chewing and biting
Your dog is likely to do so at his rear by the tail.
Your dog may be sleeping but jumps up suddenly because of an intense itch. This is likely another sign. This means that the itching is sudden and severe.
Hair loss comes from excessive licking. You will either see bald patches or long lines of missing fur, which is called “fur mowing.”
If your dog has been chewing and biting himself at the base of his tail, you will see hair loss there. Alternately, you will see fur mowing starting from the base of the tail.
Hot spots are also called acute moist dermatitis. They come from painful, severely itchy areas of infected skin that may also be raised from swelling.
Hot spots are most likely to be on the face, neck, limbs, and/or hips. They may or may not come with hair loss.
Flea bites are uncomfortable and risky enough for dogs as it is. Flea rashes are reactions to the saliva from flea bites and interrupt your dog’s daily life and functioning. They can cause health issues for your dog, so it’s important to treat your dog for fleas as soon as possible.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read this post. I hope you were able to gain some useful information. Don’t forget to follow the links to some of the other posts we’ve got. They’ll help you get a full picture of how to really treat fleas and ticks.
It’s the best way to keep your dog from developing serious illness due to parasites.
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