Can Pets Be Allergic to Fleas?

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Pets can indeed be allergic to flea bites, a condition known as flea bit dermatitis. Dermatitis is an inflammation or infection of the skin. Symptoms of flea bite dermatitis are the result of your pet's allergy to flea saliva. Just as one bee sting can cause an allergic reaction in some people, the bite of only one flea may be sufficient to cause a problem for some pets.

Pets have symptoms like:

  • Intense itching
  • Extensive skin damage
  • Biting
  • Licking
  • Scratching


Flea allergy dermatitis can range from superficial with mild itching to deep, severe, and intensely painful inflammation. Normal skin bacteria may opportunistically invade the damaged skin and cause infection as well.

Diagnosis is based on symptoms, examination findings, evidence of fleas, response to treatment and sometimes skin or blood tests.

Flea control is an essential part of treatment. Antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, topical medications or shampoos may be necessary. Although flea bite allergy can be treated, it will be a recurring problem unless aggressive flea control measures are taken. It may only take one flea bite for some pets to start itching which can lead to an infection.

Important Points

  • Provide your pet with prescription flea control all year round.
  • Begin a comprehensive flea control program that includes treatment of the house, yard and any area that your pet visits.
  • Use all medications as prescribed by your veterinarian.
  • Have your pet rechecked as directed by your veterinarian.

If you have questions about this or any medical topic, please contact your Banfield hospital today.