Lucy presented with a history of scratching and chewing at her back and tail. Her owners said she has never had an issue before and her symptoms all started about two weeks prior. Her owners explained that they recently adopted a new puppy but have not noticed any problems with the puppy. They also noted small rice-like objects next to Lucy’s stool.
Flea dirt and live fleas were discovered on Lucy’s physical examination. Because of the findings it was determined that Lucy was suffering from a flea allergy. Flea allergy occurs when an animal is allergic to the saliva of the flea and develops a skin reaction, which often manifests as itchy skin, scaling, and pustules around the location of flea bites. On dogs, the lesions generally develop around the tail base, back, and along their abdomens.
The other important diagnostic performed was a fecal test, where it was revealed that Lucy was also infected with tapeworms. Tapeworms are transmitted by the ingestion of live fleas. Tapeworms can be transmitted to people, so it is very important to make sure your pet is treated and a fecal test is done yearly.
The first step was to kill the fleas that were alive on Lucy with a medication called Capstar. Following the Capstar, a monthly flea preventative will need to be followed. If infestations are bad enough a flea bath may be required. Oftentimes when a flea allergy is present anti-inflammatory medications are needed to control the itching and prevent self-trauma. When one pet is treated in the household for fleas it is highly recommended that all others are treated as well. It needs to be understood that there is no quick fix for fleas; it can take months to clear infestations and the pet’s environment or the household will need to be thoroughly cleaned.
The other concern was Lucy had tapeworms, a deworming regimen is required in order to clear intestinal parasites. Following this regimen, a repeat fecal test is recommended to make sure the parasites have been cleared completely.