How To Treat Flea Bites On Dogs

Kate Barrington
by Kate Barrington

Take a bite out of pesky flea problems, as we go over ways to treat flea bites on dogs.

Not only are fleas a common problem in dogs, but they are also difficult to eradicate once they have infested your pet and your home. For the most part, fleas cause minor irritation and itching, but in some cases, dogs have an allergic reaction to flea bites which can become very serious. To save your pet from the irritation and suffering of a severe infestation, take the time to learn how to treat flea bites on dogs.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Flea infestations are fairly easy to recognize because not only are you likely to spot the fleas crawling on your dog’s skin, but you will likely notice behavioral changes as well. Your dog will appear restless and he will scratch, lick, or chew on himself more than usual. Other signs of flea infestation may include scratching the ears or shaking the head. These are all common symptoms of a flea infestation but the symptoms of flea allergy dermatitis, or flea bite hypersensitivity, may be a little different. Dogs can develop this condition at any age, though it is most commonly seen in young dogs between 1 and 5 years of age.

Related: My Dog Has Fleas – What Do I Do?

Flea allergy dermatitis is not a reaction to the flea itself but to its saliva. Flea saliva can carry more than 15 different antigens and each one of these antigens has the potential to cause an allergic reaction in your dog. Common symptoms of flea allergy dermatitis include biting or scratching at the base of the tail, intense itching, hair loss or thinning at the base of the tail, scabs on the skin, and flea dirt on the body or in the dog’s bedding. Once a dog develops flea allergy dermatitis it is unlikely to ever become desensitized to flea bites – the dog will always be hypersensitive.

Treatment Options for Flea Bites

The treatment options for flea allergy dermatitis are no different than for the flea infestation itself. In all cases, prevention is the best course of action because once a flea infestation develops it can be difficult to eradicate all of the eggs, larvae, and adult fleas. Using a topical preventive is the best way to protect your pet against fleas and treat a flea infestation. Topical flea preventives typically contain both an adulticide and insect growth regulators (IGRs) – the adulticide kills the adult flea while the IGR kills the eggs and larvae, preventing them from developing into adults.

Related: Flea Repellent Dog Treat Recipe

In addition to topical preventives, some veterinarians recommend the use of oral preventives. As well, flea shampoos may also be helpful in soothing your dog’s irritated skin and killing off the fleas. Not only will you need to rid your dog of fleas but you will need to clean his bedding and vacuum and treat the furniture and carpets in your house to prevent re-infestation. In cases of flea allergy dermatitis, your dog may require treatment with antihistamines or steroids to treat the reaction to the bites.

Treating the flea infestation in your home isn’t going to be a once-and-done effort. With the combination of fleas of different life stages, the cycle will continue for a while unless you go out of your way to remove every flea that may be hiding in the nooks and crannies of your home. To do this, you are going to need to commit to cleaning your house at least once a day, vacuuming the floor, and cleaning every surface.

You can help to speed up the process and add an extra boost of freshness to your efforts by sprinkling baking soda on any carpeted or fabric surfaces and allowing it to sit overnight. The baking soda will absorb any moisture in the area, drying out and dehydrating fleas and their eggs. As a bonus, the baking soda will also remove any smells from your carpet, leaving everything looking and smelling fresh when the infestation is finally gone.

Flea infestations are more than just a hassle for pet owners – they can be a serious problem. Do yourself and your dog a favor by using a flea preventative on a regular basis to prevent flea infestations and having to treat flea bites on dogs.

How to Provide Much-Needed Itch Relief

If you are dealing with a flea infestation, you may be looking for quick relief for your dog’s itching. Flea and tick treatments will eventually get rid of your unwanted visitors, but it can take time. There is no need for your dog to be uncomfortable while they wait.

Anti-Itch Shampoos

Soap-free shampoo free from perfumes, fragrances, and insecticides can give your dog the instant relief that they crave. You can choose from a shampoo product specifically formulated for flea itch relief or choose a natural oatmeal shampoo. After lathering up your dog with your shampoo of choice, allow it to sit on your dog for 10 minutes before rinsing. This will give the ingredients of the shampoo time to work their magic.

If your dog’s itching is more serious, you may want to speak with your veterinarian about a prescription itch-relief shampoo. These products contain medicinal ingredients that help to relieve itching, repair the skin, and fight off any potential infections from the ongoing skin irritation.

Anti-Itch Sprays

Another topical solution that could provide instant relief for your dog is an anti-itch spray. Spray the product onto your dog and massage it into their skin. If your dog has long fur, you may need to part it and expose the skin for the product to reach it effectively. Select a product made with natural ingredients so that you can use it each time you see that your dog is starting to get uncomfortable without worrying about the risk of overexposure to a harmful chemical.

Coconut Oil

A single ingredient solution to your dog’s itchy skin, coconut oil has been found to suppress the inflammation that causes irritation. By reducing the allergic reaction, you effectively reduce the itch. Take a small amount of coconut oil into your hands and run your hands together, warming it up before massaging it into your dog’s skin. Not only will the coconut oil itself soothe your dog, but the act of massaging is a great way to offer some relief while bonding with one another.  

Best Flea Preventive Medications and Treatments

To effectively eradicate fleas from your pet’s life, you’ll have to treat both your dog and the environment he lives in. Once the pooch is infested with these nasty bloodsuckers, only combined action can make sure there are no fleas to bother your pet anymore. Here are the best products on the market to help you eliminate fleas once and for all!

Frontline Plus for Dogs

Fast-acting and long-lasting, this topical flea treatment will both kill and repel all kinds of nasty parasites. It is effective against fleas, flea eggs, and flea larvae as well as against ticks, and chewing lice. Easy to administer at home, the spot-on liquid is applied on your pet’s back. With this product, your pooch will be safe from external parasites for up to a month! And as the active ingredients are absorbed through the skin, you don’t have to worry about getting wet as with some other products.

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Vet’s Best Flea and Tick Home Spray

If your pet brought fleas inside, you have to treat the whole house and not just your dog. You might not see the tiny buggers, but rest assured: if given half a chance, fleas will get in your floors, carpets, and furniture and continue bothering your pet. The formula of this spray is effective against fleas in all life stages and can be used on all kinds of surfaces both indoors and outdoors.

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Seresto Flea and Tick Collar for Dogs

Cost-effective and convenient, this antiparasitic dog collar will keep your pet protected from fleas and ticks for up to 8 months. A great choice for pet parents who can’t be bothered to re-apply treatments every month or have dogs that don’t respond to other flea preventatives. Available in sizes to accommodate the needs of all dog breeds, this collar will work continuously to keep your pet protected.

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Wondercide Flea and Tick Killer

In case you are on a lookout for a natural solution for fleas, it might be difficult finding products that are both natural and non-toxic as well as actually effective. Wondercide spray is one of those that gained popularity for its dog-safe, plant-based formula and great performance with fleas and ticks both. To boot, you can simultaneously use this spray on your pet and around the home – a two for one!

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Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Flea and Tick Shampoo for Dogs

For those that prefer to include flea prevention in their existing grooming routine, flea shampoos are the best choice. This vet-formulated shampoo uses potent active ingredients to kill fleas and tick on contact and it’s a great option if you want to quickly eliminate the fleas once you spot them on your pet’s coat. And if the flea bites caused an irritation, don’t worry – this shampoo will soothe and offer relief to itchy skin.

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Kate Barrington
Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.

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