Monday, April 1, 2013

Astonishing Secrets: The Annoyance of Flies & Fly bite Dermatitis

This is another one of my Astonishing Secrets series, and this time, I draw inspiration from those big March flies that were trying to eat me alive on the weekend, coupled with the increase in the numbers of dogs I see with dermatitis on ear flaps.
"I can see where that mossie bit you.  It is just here!"

This Astonishing secrets series is all about helping you, the pet owner, until you are able to get you and  your pet into a veterinary hospital.  Vets are there to help you, but we can only do that if you let us.

It is April now in Wollongong, and one would think that the issue of flies and mosquitoes would not be a real issue, after all, it is autumn.  But, it has been unseasonally warm (almost boiling in some areas, like Victoria), and with this, it is perfect breeding weather for biting things.

To my surprise, we are seeing an extra-ordinary number of dogs with "Hot spots", especially on the head and tail base (tell tale areas for insect bites), and the odd one with the fly attack on the ears.

Mosquito Bite Hypersensitivity usually looks like this, which
can mimic many other diseases also.
And cats are not alone either... we have seen several cases of cats with Mosquito bite hypersensitivity. In
cats, this often looks like tiny ulcers on the nose, eyelids, ears, and face. It is frustrating to treat, as keeping the cats indoors doesn't always help either - as mossies can sneak in too!

How do we treat these conditions?  Well the first thing to do is to recognise them.

It isn't a matter of matching the pictures to the disease, as veterinary work isn't that easy. Our role as loving pet owners, and as veterinarians, is always think about the welfare of the pet.... always.

Hot Spots on dogs are due to many things, and the location  on the body is often a clue to what could have caused them - for example - around the head or neck it is usually ear infections or insect bites.  Around the bottom - well insect bites, worms or anal gland problems. But these are generalizations  and our pets nor their diseases, like to be lumped into a square box... life isn't like that.

The treatment of fly or insect annoyance is really really easy.  Seriously.  Avoid the flies and mosquitoes.

It's not that easy, though is it.  Which is why you are reading this.

Situation A - you can see the flies buzzing around, or your pet has had a previous problem with it. - This is the prevention side.

1. Check out the expiry date on your fly products - if they are out of date, do not use them at all.  Some products become more toxic the older they are, and some just become ineffective.  Throwing the bottle out and buying fresh stuff is cheaper than the vet fees if your pet starts seizuring or has a nasty reaction to it.

2. Get into the habit of spraying your pet daily with the fly repellant stuff (or using the ointment mentioned below).  These things only work if they are used properly and regularly.

For dogs, you can use Advantix spot on (made by Bayer) or Permoxin rinse (by Dermcare-Vet).

For cats, you can use Buzz Off ointment by Value Plus.

Now hopefully, your pet won't have any skin problems as a result of the insects, and they'll be frustrated and bite something else.

Situation B -  Your pet already has skin problems as as a result of the "Fly worry"

These are harder to manage because

  • The biting insects causing bleeding sores which attract more biting insects
  •  The bite itself can be itchy, so the pet scratches, licks and chews.
  •  If the pet is allergic, then it will be really really itchy
  • Broken skin allows bacteria to penetrate the skin layer and contribute to infections, being fed on by the blood and trauma from scratching, licking and chewing.
The advice below I will give is suitable for dogs and cats only.  It is not suitable for other pets at all.

1. Make a warm water bath.  In it place nothing... that is right, no salt, no iodine, no chlorhexidine.... nothing.  We just want to make up a warm water compress to place onto the scabby sores on the nose, or ears or elsewhere.

2.  Clip up the hair if you need to - this is especially important if there are sores in areas around the neck or where there is a thick coat - the thick coat will trap the bloody moisture, and make it worse.

3. Use a product called Buzz off, made by Value Plus Australia (I receive no commission or bonuses or anything for saying this).  It is a antiseptic and Fly repellant cream and it can be applied to broken  skin.  Obviously, it can't go near or in eyes, so be careful on how you apply it onto cat's noses. 

But, in Situation B, you are going to need a vet visit pretty darn quickly - there are medications your pet needs to help things heal faster and better.  Your pet may need antibiotics, antibiotic cream (not just antiseptic cream), anti-itch tablets, or medicated shampoos.  Honestly, until your pet is examined, I don't know what the best combo of treatments is needed for your pet. 

That is where your vet can help you - it is our skill, knowledge and experience in what is the best
combination of therapies that work best for your pet's environment, skin and coat type and (obviously) finances.  You can spend alot of money trialling stuff from the pet shop, which may not work, and go to a vet and get the prescription stuff that does.

Has this helped you?  Please let us know, as all of us at Russell Vale Animal Clinic want to help all pets as best as we know how.