Help! My Dog has Fleas!

We are seeing more and more fleas in Alberta.  If you’ve caught your pet scratching an awful lot lately, and it may be a little parasite crawling around on your pet’s skin.   When you bring your itchy dog to see us at the Horizon Veterinary Hospitals we will look for little creepy crawlies such as fleas or lice, which can be caught from other dogs at daycares or even at the off leash parks, however, there are more common reasons why your dog may be scratching. 

One of the most common reasons that we see itchy dogs is because of allergies.  If your pet has allergies, it can make their skin and ears red and itchy, making them prone to skin and ear infections, which in turn can make them even more uncomfortable so that they scratch even more!

Your dog can be allergic to almost anything in the environment, including human skin cells–yes that’s you!!–or grass, or pollen, or mold to name a few.  They can also be allergic to something that they eat, either as part of their daily diet, or as a treat given once in awhile.

 It can be a challenge to figure out what your dog may be allergic to.  A good first step is to find out if it is something they are eating.  Your veterinarian may recommend removing everything from their diet and feed them a special hypoallergenic food.   There are different kinds of hypoallergenic diets, and you can discuss with your vet which one may be the best choice for your dog.  Sometimes it’s a matter of trying a couple of different foods to see which one works best.

If, after some time on a hypoallergenic food, you find your dog is still itchy then they may be allergic to something in the environment.  This can be a little tougher to figure out, and your vet may talk to you about different tests available to figure out what in the environment your dog is allergic to.

In the meantime, our goal is to make your pet as comfortable as we can by taking away the itch!  Your Horizon veterinarian may prescribe certain antibiotics or antifungal medications or shampoos to get rid any skin or ear infections we often see associated with allergies.  We can also calm that itchy skin by having you feed your dog lots of Omega fatty acids or by using certain topical medications.  Your veterinarian can discuss with you different options for oral medications you can give your pet to calm down those allergies.

 Sometimes we never find out what your dog is allergic to, but we can help you make them more comfortable by managing the itch.  We know that allergies can sometimes be a frustrating, lifelong challenge to manage, and the Horizon staff are here to help you every step of the way!

Article by:  Dr. Janine VanderPol, Bsc DVM