Flea allergy dermatitis is a skin rash caused by an allergic reaction to flea bites. The allergy causes immediate inflammation of the skin, followed by itching and rawness. Dogs can develop such a rash from a single flea bite; in some cases even if the fleas are eliminated the condition can persist.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Used over centuries for a variety of medicinal purposes, apple cider vinegar is particularly effective for skin conditions. Mix it with water in equal quantities and use it as a rinse after bathing your dog with a mild or medicated dog shampoo. Allow your dog’s coat to dry naturally. Keep some of your apple cider vinegar solution in a spray bottle for quick relief of itchy spots. If you see your dog scratching between baths, part the hair and spray a fine mist of the solution directly onto the skin.
Epsom salts are useful for soothing a number of skin complaints, and a bath containing the salts may help to reduce the inflammation and irritation caused by the fleas. Dissolve a cup of Epsom salts in a gallon of warm water and bath your dog in the solution. This doesn’t get rid of fleas but will help to soothe the skin rash resulting from flea bites. Avoid letting your dog drink any of the water, because Epsom salts may cause diarrhea.
Oatmeal draws inflammatory toxins out of the skin as well as soothes and moisturizes. You can make your own solution by grinding a cup of oatmeal finely in a blender and adding it to a tub of lukewarm water. Bath the dog in the solution, allowing it to soak into her coat for at least 15 minutes; avoid rinsing it until then. For hairless patches, prepare the oatmeal as you would for a meal; once it cools completely, apply it to the affected area and leave it on for between 10 and 15 minutes before you rinse it off.
Witch hazel is a herbal astringent that owes its well-known anti-inflammatory properties to the tannin plant from which it’s derived. Its use dates back to early European settlement, when settlers learned from the native Americans to make healing dressings for sores. Keep witch hazel in a spray bottle for quick application when your dog starts to scratch on an inflamed area of skin, or dab it on with cotton wool.
You can use baking soda similar to the way you use Epsom salts. Dissolve a teaspoonful in a glass of warm water and dab it onto the itchy areas, or rinse your dog with the solution after her bath. For badly affected areas, dab the baking soda solution on with cotton wool or a clean cloth when you see the dog itching and scratching.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Tracey Sandilands has written professionally since 1990, covering business, home ownership and pets. She holds a professional business management qualification, a bachelor's degree in communications and a diploma in public relations and journalism. Sandilands is the former editor of an international property news portal and an experienced dog breeder and trainer.