Q. My dog is on the flea prevention you recommended. I’m positive she doesn’t have fleas, but she’s still scratching a lot. What gives?

A. There are several possibilities. Food allergies, skin conditions, or – fleas.

Recently we received a call about one of our favorite patients who had been scratching incessantly and was generally miserable. The dog had been on Trifexis, and we found no evidence of fleas on her. We had also ruled out the possibility of food allergies. We found out, however, that there were fleas in the dog’s yard – often a possibility when a home is near anywhere there are squirrels.

This sweet dog had probably been bitten by one flea, a flea that had died the moment it bit her. The bite, however, started an allergic reaction that got out of control.

We recommended some temporary relief with an allergy medication and a nice bath in oatmeal shampoo or from our pet spa. We prescribed steroid pills to halt the itching. Had she needed it, we would also have given medication for secondary skin infections.

Because she’s in an area where there are fleas, she may be bitten again. In that case, we’ll re-prescribe another course of steroids. For the time being, however, we’re happy to report that this sweet doggie is now comfortably enjoying the cooler weather we’re having this week – and that the scratching is gone.

If your dog or cat is still scratching, bring him in to see us. Incessant scratching can lead to some major health problems. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to keeping your pet healthy and happy.