Fleas more than just a minor nuissance. In addition to the painful, itchy red bite marks they leave behind, they can also contribute to hair loss in dogs. This isn’t something that happens overnight, but infestations lasting several weeks or longer may cause a dog to lose its hair.
Why Fleas Cause Hair Loss In Dogs
The reason why fleas cause some (not all) dogs to lose their hair is because their bites trigger allergic reactions. When a flea bites into a host, it injects a small amount saliva while simultaneously drawing blood. This saliva may cause an allergic reaction that’s characterized by intense itching in dogs and other mammals. Also known as flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), dogs with this condition will scratch, gnaw and chew themselves after being bitten a flea.
A few short sessions of scratching isn’t going to cause a dog to lose its hair. If a dog continues to scratch itself for weeks on end, however, it will almost certainly begin to show signs of hair loss. This is why it’s important for owners to take immediate action at the first sign of an infestation; otherwise, it could lead to a variety of health problems.
Problems Caused By Scratching
Again, minor, sporadic scratching isn’t a big deal. It’s something that all dogs — big and small — do on a regular basis. When a dog aggressively scratches itself for long periods of time, however, it can lead to hair loss as well as open wounds. Scratching-related wounds are prime targets for infection, which can prove to be life-threatening if not properly taken care of.
What should you do if your dog has already scratched itself raw? Depending on the severity of the wound, you may be able to treat it using an antibiotic ointment and bandage. If you notice any bleeding, though, you should take your dog to the veterinarian ASAP.
How To Stop Your Dog From Scratching
If you believe fleas are causing your dog to scratch, you should work to eliminate the problem at its source: the flea infestation. You can place a cone around your dog’s neck to prevent them from scratching their ears or face, but this isn’t going to solve the problem. The only sure-fire way to stop a dog from scratching is to exterminate the fleas. This can be done using a combination of environmental/climate controls and host medication.
Be sure to check out some of our previous articles here at FleaBitesonHuman.com for some more helpful tips on how to combat fleas.