Summer time itches
We welcome the warmer weather, but we don’t want to be welcoming nasty parasites and allergies that can cause our pets much distress.
Fleas are living in abundance on wild animals as well as domesticated ones at this time of year. Cats that hunt are particularly vulnerable to catching more than they bargained for and dogs can easily pick them up from simply being out and about.
Symptoms of flea infestations are different for cats and dogs – in dogs, problems are generally easier to spot as they tend to start scratching excessively. Cats will lick and groom themselves more – sometimes so much so that they create bald patches. They often remove any signs of fleas from their coats, so the cause of the problem isn’t always obvious.
Many animals aren’t particularly sensitive to flea bites, so just because they aren’t showing any signs of a problem doesn’t mean your pets aren’t infected! Without protection, it is reasonable to assume that most pets will be carrying a few extra passengers!
It’s important to be aware that supermarket spot-on flea products for dogs contain permethrins – these are generally safe for dogs but must NEVER be applied to cats as they are extremely toxic!
We recommend year-round parasite control with changes in the climate and you should speak to your vet for their advice.
Harvest mites will also cause itching issues in the summer and are picked up in woodland and grassland where they will swarm onto passing pets. They are tiny, bright orange and tend to congregate between the toes or on the ear flaps. They are very irritating, causing itchy crusting lesions.
Skin allergies are fairly common in dogs – pollens from plants, grasses and trees can irritate their skin. The most common places for sore spots to develop are where pollens land – typically the feet, stomach, armpits, groin and ears.
The skin in these areas will become pink and your dog will start to lick excessively, scratch or chew at them causing more damage.
Medication can be given to reduce the itching, combat any infections introduced by scratching or licking and reduce the exposure to allergens if possible.
As always, we recommend consulting with your own vet if you are at all concerned about your pet itching and licking more than usual. They will check for signs of parasites and/or allergies and recommend the best form of preventative medicine.
Chris Devlin BVSc MRCVS is a Vet and Partner at Hillside Veterinary Centre in Corfe Mullen.