Back to School...Back to Scratching?

Fall is here and it's back to school week in the Queen City!  For the moment, we have been able to enjoy some sunshine and the beautiful colored leaves, however fall brings with it some unique veterinary health factors that can affect your pet - especially those prone to allergies!

Many of our patients with seasonal environmental allergies can find fall a very difficult season to manage (just as many people do!) Cue the red watery eyes and stuffy noses due to increased plant particles and dust in the air from harvest activities.  We may also see some additional moulds out in the grass or around trees as the days become cooler and damp in the evenings.  These environmental factors can lead to "flare-ups" of itchy skin, red eyes & eyes, rashes, and paw chewing.  If your furry family member routinely has these types of symptoms at the start of the fall, you may wish to book a consultation with one of our veterinarians to see if starting your pet on an allergy medication BEFORE a trigger season arrives would be appropriate for your pet.

As fields are being swathed and combined, this can also mean the movement of many wildlife out of fields and sometimes roaming closer to your yard.  As skunks are a significant vector and carrier for Rabies disease in our province, making sure that your pet is up to date on their vaccinations becomes increasingly important as you may have some unfortunate encounters on your late night walks out in the country. Remember that Rabies is a fatal disease that can be prevented through vaccination! Contact one of our team members today if you are unsure about your pet's vaccine status to make sure they are protected.

Lastly, we tend to see a lot of cases (particularly in dogs) involving grass awns this time of year.  Please read our previous blog posts on the dangers of Foxtail.  Foxtail grass awns are the pokey, spindly, little straw-coloured ends on the top of taller strands of grass.  They like to blow in the wind and into yards and parks this time of year.  If you are outside playing with your dog (or you have a canine who loves to eat grass) this can be a hazard for your pet.  Grass awns can penetrate the skin anywhere on the body (similar to a porcupine quill) and cause an abscess or infection.  When swallowed, they also like to embed in the soft tissue at the back of the throat or in the tonsils.  This can result in significant discomfort for your pet as well as persistent signs of retching, coughing, vomiting and drooling.  If your pet is exhibiting any of these symptoms, an examination by your veterinarian is recommended sooner rather than later! 

Autumn is no doubt a beautiful season and our last chance at warmth before the cold Saskatchewan winter sets in!  Enjoy the time outside playing in the leaves and hiking with your pets before the walkways turn to snow and ice- but be aware of the above risk factors so you can be proactive in preventing any associated issues. Happy Fall everyone!         

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