by Dr Clinton Austin, Head of Clinical Development and Regulatory Affairs for Animal Health at Bayer South Africa
As we wave goodbye to the cold winter days and usher summer back into our gardens, please remember that this seasonal change can also bring with it some health risks for your beloved pets.
Who are the pesky culprits?
External parasites affecting your dogs are often more numerous in summer, so be on the lookout for:
- Fleas: It is very difficult to avoid fleas during summer season; they lay eggs in the thousands and can be found everywhere - outdoors or even in your home. As fleas feed on the blood of animals (particularly furry pets like cats, dogs, hamsters and some exotic pets like monkeys), they live on your pet’s skin and in their fur, which causes itching and in severe cases, allergies, hair loss and trauma from continual scratching.
- Ticks: Ticks are little insect vampires that also feed on blood, attaching themselves to your pet’s skin as they feed. Ticks can transmit diseases or infections to your pet through their bite and in South Africa, pet dogs and cats have a high risk of contracting biliary or tick-bite fever. This protozoal infection is transmitted through the saliva of infected ticks, and may lead to severe illness and death if not treated in time
- Mosquitoes: Dogs and cats can also be affected by mosquito bites, which may sometimes lead to allergic reactions and severe itching. Although not confirmed present in South Africa, mosquitoes can transmit heartworm to dogs.
- Mange mites: Although not commonly lethal, mange infestations can cause severe discomfort and chronic skin afflictions in your dogs. The mites either live in the hair follicles or burrow into the skin, causing severe itching in the latter case and predisposing the skin to infection.
Although most attentive owners will notice when their animals are not well, either by their behaviour or when obvious symptoms are present, disease may sometimes be difficult to detect. Be on the lookout for the following symptoms and contact your veterinarian if concerned:
- Dry or itchy skin, sores, lumps, bumps or shaking of the head
- Oral issues such as bad breath and excessive panting
- Dry, red or cloudy eyes
- Irregular bowl movements and changes in appetite
- Changes in sleeping patterns
Contrary to popular opinion, a dry nose is not always a symptom of illness; conversely, a moist nose is not necessarily an indicator of good health.
There are some preventive measures you can take to manage these pets over the summer season, which will also ensure that your furry companion is in tip-top shape. These include:
- Make sure your pet receives its annual vaccinations, as advised by your veterinary practitioner
- Apply effective and recommended tick and flea control products.
- Brush your pet’s teeth to prevent oral diseases
- Brush your pets fur and inspect any lumps and bumps, pests or other anomalies
- Make sure you provide your pet with the best nutrition, as advised by your veterinary practitioner
From fleas and ticks to mites and worms… summer certainly is the season where these pests are abundant! However, applying effective preventative measures to treat your pet before they are affected, is not only easy, but also the best way to keep your beloved companion healthy and happy this summer.
Further information about the author
Dr Clint is a qualified veterinary practitioner with a passion for animal health. He is constantly working to develop top quality products to ensure the wellbeing of your fur family. Proudly brought to you by Bayer.