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Dog's Irritated / Itchy Skin (Licking it Bald) - Flea Allergy Dermatitis

by Christine G.
(Austin, TX)

My 7lbs./5 year old, male chihuahua has been licking/biting his legs excessively - more so on the front legs, but has now started on the back legs as well for about two weeks now.

His legs look dry and irritated, the fur is sparse where he's been licking so much and he has the "dirt" spots on his underbelly (from fleas, I'm presuming. There are a lot of cats at my complex that are indoor/outdoor cats).

I do find a few fleas when I check his fur, but the scratching seems excessive for the number of fleas I'm finding on him. I've been bathing him about twice a week and have applied Advantix. It's not helping.

What can I do to ease my poor dog's discomfort and rid the fleas (if that's what it is) at the same time?

Thanks for you time and help.

Comments for Dog's Irritated / Itchy Skin (Licking it Bald) - Flea Allergy Dermatitis

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Nov 19, 2009
My Online Vet Response to Itchy Skin-licking it bald
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Christine,
You did not include a picture, but it sounds like your little Chihuahua has a clear case of Flea Allergy Dermatitis. It only takes one flea to make a dog with an allergy to fleas scratch non-stop.

Advantix is not a very effective repellent for fleas.(It is more useful to repel ticks.)It is also not a very holistic treatment, either. And bathing twice a week may be drying out your little one's skin. Make sure you are using a mild shampoo with oatmeal, which is helpful for itchy skin.

Check out our page on flea allergy for more details.

And also the page for Flea Control.

Note that fleas are parasites and are attracted to sick animals. If you are able to improve your little one's health by improving the diet, decreasing vaccinations, and removing stress, and by also contacting a holistic veterinarian for other alternative treatments, the fleas will no longer be attracted to him.

See our section on diet (includes good homemade and store-bought diet options), then go to Alternative Dog Care - Locate a Vet in Your Area to find a holistic veterinarian near you.

Please keep us posted by coming back to this page and clicking the 'click here to add your own comments' link below.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

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DISCLAIMER: The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.

Related Pages:
Dog Skin Conditions,
Dog Itchy Skin,
Dog Skin Rash,
Dog Skin Allergies,
Ask a Vet Online Library - Dog Skin Rashes, Marks, Spots, Lesions & Patches (including itchy skin and mange) Section

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