Fleas are tiny, troublesome parasites that feed on their host’s blood, namely our pets. These fleas carry diseases, and their saliva can lead to the development of flea allergy. Flea saliva can be found in the flea bites, which can then cause severe itching or an allergic reaction.
Even humans can get bitten by these fleas; however, the bites will show up and affect animals differently. Flea allergy dermatitis, simply known as FAD, is the most common skin problem amongst pets in the world. Cases involving cats were reported to have increased to about 67 per cent over the past ten years. Whether you are living in a rural area or in a high apartment, you can still have fleas in your home, which makes your cat vulnerable to flea allergy dermatitis.
What are the symptoms of flea allergy dermatitis in cats?
- Frequent scratching or itching, and sometimes more severe than usual.
- Scabs or skin damages on the cat’s skin due to bites and immense scratching or licking.
- Hair loss.
- Biting and/or chewing in the hind area as well as in the tails or legs (in most cases, the hind end is more affected than the head or the front part of the cat’s body).
How is flea allergy dermatitis in cats diagnosed?
Although this skin disease is very common in cats, this can be easily misdiagnosed as other skin disorders may display the same symptoms.
- Your veterinarian will ask for the medical history of your cat.
- A thorough physical examination of your cat will be conducted wherein your vet is likely to:
- use a flea comb and comb through your cat’s fur to see any signs of fleas and flea dirt
- a white paper will be placed underneath the cat whilst its fur is roughed up; the paper will then be sprayed with water, which will dissolve the present flea dirt
- Some vets may recommend:
- intradermal testing or skin patch testing
- specialised blood testing
If fleas are evident in your cat, your veterinarian may recommend getting your cat’s flea problem controlled first before fully determining the reasons for your cat’s itching.
How do you treat flea allergy dermatitis in cats?
There are various flea control treatments and preventions that are available in the market, but observing proper application is very important.
- Usually, treatments are applied as ‘spot-on treatments’ such as topical treatments, which are applied to areas that are unreachable when they are grooming themselves.
- For cats with severe flea infestation, flea shampoos are recommended.
- Oral products can also do a good job in controlling fleas. Additionally, it is also more practical.
Treating a cat flea allergy has two components: the first is to control fleas and help your cat avoid future bites, and second is to treat further infections caused by the allergy. The latter treatment may include medicines and antibiotics to aid in controlling the itch. For cats that are allergic to fleas, they might need antihistamines or steroids to fight their sensitivity to flea bites.
What are the home remedies for cat flea allergy?
- Give your cat a bath.
- Regularly flea-comb your cat.
- Wash your cat’s bedding on a regular basis.
- Clean your house regularly/vacuum diligently.
- Clean out your yard.
- Use flea sprays (or a home-made one with lemon or vinegar).
How can flea allergy dermatitis be prevented?
The best possible method to help your cat avoid or limit its exposure to fleas as well as its allergy flea bite is through a strict flea control. Here are safety tips when using flea controls:
- Flea control products for dogs have different ingredients that can be highly dangerous to cats. Therefore, never use flea control products that are not specifically designed for cats.
- Use topical ointment after bathing and drying your cat.
- Do not mix flea treatments unless it is recommended by your veterinarian. Mixing the flea control products may double-up the active ingredients, which may cause further toxicity.
What are other possible reasons for itch besides fleas?
- Bacterial infections in the skin
- Food allergies
- Pollen allergy
- House dust
- Insect mites
- Ear mites
- Harvest mites
If you have other queries or concerns, we recommend that you contact or visit a veterinarian as they are the experts in ensuring the overall well-being and health of your beloved pets.
Did you find this article helpful? Learn more preventive measures to different cat health concerns here!