Sammy is a 4-year-old female Boston Terrier. She came to us last week because her owners said she was constantly chewing all over her skin. They claimed that it started out of nowhere and she has been scratching all night and day. Sammy had no record of any allergies as far as her owners had known.

When Sammy came in for her exam she had areas of fur around her back end and legs that appeared to have been clipped by clippers. All the hair was a very similar length and wasn’t falling out. It was determined that this was considered self-inflicted barbering by Sammy. She had chewed her hair down because she was so itchy. Also along those same areas, there was areas of scabs as well as redness. It appeared that Sammy was having an allergic reaction to something. Further looking under her coat there was material that looked very similar to dirt. At this point, there was heavy suspicion for fleas as the cause of Sammy’s skin condition. After examining Sammy thoroughly one live flea was found.

The material that looked like dirt that was found, was most likely the waste product of the live fleas, which is given the term flea dirt. Sammy was also having a reaction to the biting fleas, this is because she was allergic to them. This led to a flea bite dermatitis or a skin infection. Sammy was started on a short course of steroids and antihistamines along with a course of antibiotics to clear the infection. When asked about flea and tick preventative Sammy’s owners admitted they had forgotten to do it this month, and haven’t been very good with giving it consistently. Sammy was immediately started back on flea and tick preventative and I explained to the owners how important it is to keep up on a monthly basis to prevent breaks in protection.

One of the most frustrating and biggest issues is clearing fleas from the environment. Although Sammy is protected there may be a large amount in the environment. Fleas can persist in the environment for months in a dormant state. It was recommended to wash all bedding and vacuum corners especially to try and rid the environment from the fleas and most importantly keep up with the monthly preventative to keep the fleas off of Sammy as she is so allergic to them. Another recommendation is to make sure all pets in the household are also on a preventative. In Sammy’s case, she was the only pet in the household.