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Fleas and Skin Rash

by April
(San Clemente, CA, USA)

I found a flea on my dog, but noticed that her skin looks really red and irritated and that she is biting at her legs and scratching a lot. I noticed under her hind legs this black stuff at the base of her fur.

When I've looked online it appears to be "flea dirt". I gave her a bath and applied Frontline but am wondering what else I need to do to rid of the fleas. And what I can do to get rid of the flea dirt, if that is what it is, and help ease her itching.

What else could it be if not fleas? Some kind of skin rash?

Comments for Fleas and Skin Rash

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Mar 10, 2010
Online Response to Fleas and Skin Rash
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi April,
Your picture did not come through. But finding fleas and flea dirt on your dog is enough for a diagnosis.

Even one flea will trigger a huge allergic reaction in a dog that has an allergy to the flea saliva. It will cause the dog to continue itching, scratching biting at her skin for up to three to four days, even though the flea has been removed. (Think of how you might scratch yourself after a mosquito bite, even though you killed the mosquito, and it is no longer there.)

The fact that your dog has fleas is an indication that she is not healthy. Fleas are parasites, and are attracted to 'weak' animals. If your dog is not in tip top shape, has had too many vaccinations, and/or she is on a poor diet, then she will be susceptible to fleas. In the column on the left, find Illness/Remedies, and click on Skin Conditions. Then scroll down to parasites, and you will find information on fleas.

Frontline is a topical product that is effective for ticks. It is advertised to have some effectiveness against fleas also, but in my experience, I have seen dogs with Frontline still have fleas, especially when the other underlying health issues were not addressed.

Look in the column on the left under Health/Wellness, and click on Flea Control for more info.

If your dog needs to have something 'stronger' than what we have suggested as natural flea repelling products, then I would suggest using Advantage. At least it will not soak into her tissues as Frontline does. Giving her a shampoo with Dawn Dish Detergent will help remove the fleas, but it will not provide any residual protection.

You should find a holistic veterinarian in your area for more advice to improve your dog's health, diet, skin, and prevent any future flea infestations.

April, 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 Flea Medicine, Treatment & Prevention,
- Ask a Vet Online Library - Dog Fleas & Ticks Section

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