It's fall here in Regina and with this season arriving we tend to see an increase in the number of patients who are scratching! Fall is definitely a "trigger" season for many patients with environmental allergens which we have discussed in previous blog posts, but pets can also be itchy because of other factors such as external parasites (who is starting to feel a bit itchy now themselves?!) Does your dog routinely go to the dog park or to doggy daycare? Does your pet board often when you go away for the weekend or on business trips? Do you have a multi-pet household with both dogs and cats? Increased exposure to other animals also means increased risk for contracting contagious diseases and parasites. Two types of external parasites that our veterinarians see commonly are fleas and lice. While lice tends to be species-specific, fleas are easily spread back and forth to both dogs and cats however both are very contagious. These parasites can look similar in appearance to the naked eye but are very different.
Here is a picture of a flea under our microscope:
Here is a picture of a louse:
When your pet is scratching, an appointment with one of our veterinarians is paramount to determine the potential cause. If external parasites are seen, our veterinary team will identify what exactly the parasite is so that we can guide you on proper home decontamination and choose the most appropriate medication to treat your pet with. Treating your pet with an appropriate medication recommended by one of our veterinarians is important for not only getting rid of the infestation but also for the safety of your pet. Some over-the-counter parasite treatments are not only ineffective but also can be harmful if used on the wrong species (ex: permethrins in cats).
Our veterinarians recommend that if you have a cat that routinely goes outside, dogs that routinely go to doggy daycare or boarding facilities, that in addition to intestinal deworming these pets also benefit from the protection of an external parasite preventative year-round. At Wascana Animal Hospital, our veterinarians will determine which preventative is best for your pet based on their level of exposure. Schedule your pet in today for a consultation with one of our knowledgeable veterinarians to keep your furry family member protected!