Pet subject

Fleas are a problem for cats in the summer months

Fleas are a problem for cats in the summer months - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Summer is in full swing and for vets that often means that we see more itchy pets in our consultations. As it gets warmer, some of these can develop into quite a problem, and I especially do not like the dreaded “hot spots” caused by a combination of a skin infection and itching.

Most hot spots – but not all of them – are caused by parasites and fleas appear still highly at the top of that list. It is the pets (dogs and cats) that are allergic to the saliva of the fleas that suffer the most, so some animals are not as itchy and scratchy but it’s still not nice! People can get bitten and even be allergic too, and for us it is best to refrain from scratching the bites – easier said than done!

Fleas like warm and humid weather but I also see them in the winter months, mainly due to lovely warm houses. So it is best to treat them all year round if you want to stay on top of the problem, otherwise you can build up a nasty little “nest egg”, as I call it.

There is a long list of flea products on the market these days and so can be tapered to the individual circumstances. Some of them are best not mixed and some of them are for dogs only, not cats. So take care not to make any mistakes. My advice would be to speak to your vet.

Later in summer, other parasites like the harvest mites and mange come into play too for causing an itchy pet, as well as other allergies like pollen and grasses, and there is an even longer list for contact allergies all year round. Then we have the dreaded ticks during most of the summer months which can carry diseases of which Lyme’s disease is the most seen in the UK. There are several types of ticks, but most are what is called “hard ticks”, best taken off with a suitable tick remover and/or treated with tick products, which are often combined with the flea products. So after a walk – especially in the long grass – have a good look out for these (again they can bite people too).

Unfortunately there is a longer list of other possible itchy causes, but certainly these are the ones seen most at this time of year. I still enjoy my walks with the black dog, but always have a good look out afterwards on both of us, for any unwanted visitors that I may have picked up in our otherwise so lovely countryside.

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