Mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks are not the only threats to your pets
By Dr. Beth Engelbert, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
Summer is here. However, sunshine, warm temperatures, water sports, and picnics can be thwarted by storms, humidity, toxic plants, and pesky bugs. Mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks are well known, but there are other creepy crawlies out there.
As the humid weather arrives, maggots are more common. Maggots are fly larvae that are typically deposited on dead, decaying items. However, flies will lay their eggs on pets with damp, infected skin. Outdoor pets are at the highest risk, especially with thick or wooly fur. Dogs, cats, and rabbits are among the most commonly affected.
Treatment includes removing the maggots and managing the underlying infection or injury. Physical removal of maggots is generally done under sedation for the comfort of the pet. Cats and rabbits are sensitive to many of the pesticides that can kill maggots.
Cuterebra or bot fly larvae — also called “warbles” — can also affect pets. This fly lays its eggs in rabbit or rodent nests. Pets get exposed when they try to enter the nests. The larvae can affect anywhere in the body, but they generally appear on the head and neck. The larva burrows into the skin to finish its life cycle. The larva can be seen in the hole left in the skin.
Removal of the larva should never be attempted at home. If the larva is damaged in the removal process, it can release a chemical and cause anaphylaxis. Removal at a vet hospital with sedation is usually performed. Most pets recover uneventfully once proper removal is done and secondary infections are managed.
Ringworm is another malady, though it is not actually a worm. It is a fungal infection that gets its name from the itchy red ring seen in people.
In pets ringworm causes thick, scaly, crusty, red skin. Areas with thinner fur such as the ears, face, and feet are commonly affected. This fungus can be found in the environment. Most pets with healthy skin come across this organism and do not become infected. People can potentially get infection from their pets. Some pets can harbor the organism in their fur without showing signs. Any and all pets in the house should be treated should an infection arise.
Other insects such as sand fleas — different than the cat and dog flea — and gnats can bite pets. Some of these bites can cause target-like lesions. Many people see these lesions and become concerned about Lyme disease. Pets do not develop the same skin spots with Lyme exposure that humans do.
If there is any question about any skin changes or potential infestations, a trip to the veterinarian can make things clear. While many veterinarians prefer dogs and cats, we will help “treat” the creepy crawlies.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.