Flea Bite Allergy – feline miliary dermatitis

An allergy to fleas can result in feline miliary dermatitis. The important point about a flea bite allergy or flea-bite dermatitis is that you don’t need a lot of fleas. In fact it seems that a single flea bite will suffice.

Feline miliary dermatitis caused by flea bit allergy. Photo by Michael. It can be used under a creative commons license.

Although a lot of cats are flea bite tolerant, some cats can develop a hypersensitivity to the flea bite over time. Presumably they are predisposed to the condition.

Flea bite allergy is a very common feline skin condition. I thought I would write about it briefly because my Charlie has developed the condition.

He goes outside for short spells and picks up the odd flea. I usually flea comb him daily or more regularly. He occasionally has one or two fleas maximum.

Suddenly he started to lick himself more frequently, although he always groomed himself a lot. He decided to spend time off my bed. That might not be significant but I feel he was in discomfort and was finding a quiet spot as cats do when they feel ill.

Feline flea bite allergy can cause feline miliary dermatitis which is what has happened to Charlie. Feline miliary dermatitis can be caused by other allergens too, such as mosquito bites and lice. Also fungal infections, nutritional disturbances and autoimmune diseases can cause miliary dermatitis.

To be honest I am not sure if these other allergens are also to blame but my vet – a good vet – says that Charlie is suffering from miliary dermatitis caused by a flea bite allergy.

The cure? Rather than flea combing (a reactive process) I now need to take proactive measures to stop fleas biting and that means Frontline combo drops between the shoulder blades per the vet’s instructions.

The vet also gave him an antihistamine jab to reduce the allergic reaction and make him feel better. Charlie immediately came on my bed and has stayed there! That is probably an indication that he does feel better.

I have two photographs of feline miliary dermatitis on Charlie. I think they are instructional. I had thought that Charlie was suffering from ringworm because the red bumps are similar to ringworm on cats but I was wrong.

Another photo showing red bumps on the skin. You can feel these when you flea comb and hear them as the comb passes over them. Photo by Michael and can be used under creative commons license.

A cat with flea bite allergy will lick too frequently and thin out his or her fur. You can can then see the red nodules on the skin. If you see this it is best to take your cat to the vet.

In addition to Frontline drops a general program of keeping fleas in check in and around the home is advisable. The process should be holistic – total war!

See feline allergies.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in a many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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