After one of the longest hot dry spells in years we are back to a typical British autumn - damp but still warm. This means that there will be an abundance of grass seeds or darts about. These commonly find their way into dog’s ears which can be extremely irritant and between their toes where they burrow into the skin and can be very be difficult to find. It is always best to check your dog’s coat, especially the ears and feet after any walks near long grass and remove these before they can cause trouble. Grass darts can also affect cats but they tend to get into their eyes and can cause painful corneal ulcers which could penetrate the eyeball.
Autumn fruits if picked up and eaten by dogs can cause serious stomach upsets. Acorns can be poisonous if eaten and conkers can cause potentially life threatening intestinal obstructions if swallowed.
Harvest mites are common in the Autumn and live in long grass before appearing as clusters of orange dots on feet, ears, eyelids and belly and can be very irritant. Although we are not sure, harvest mites have been associated with Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI), a sporadic but often fatal disease. SCI may also be associated with autumn fungi which dogs may scavenge. It is therefore advisable to keep dogs on the lead in wooded areas, keep to pathways and maintain anti-parasite treatment with a product that treats mites.
Ticks are also more common in Autumn. They spend most of their life cycle in overgrown areas especially in woods and heaths and can carry some serious diseases. They will attach to passing animals (humans included!) and suck the blood for several days before dropping off. Fortunately most ticks won’t live indoors like fleas however, they can carry some potentially fatal diseases like Lyme disease and Babesiosis . Thankfully these are rare locally but Lyme disease is not uncommon where sheep and deer are grazing, and although Babesiosis, a potentially life threatening disease, has so far only been found in a few locations, it is likely to spread.
Remember fleas are an all year round problem but usually reach epidemic proportions in late autumn so regular flea treatment is most important. There is no single product that protects against all these parasites and many pet shop products are ineffective, so ask your vet for advice on what is most suitable for your pet.
And as ever, watch out for fly strike in rabbits as flies remain active in a warm autumn.
St Martins Veterinary Clinic
126 Station Road
Tel.: 01895 444400
Fax: 01895 431520
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