Spring/Summer Bug Bites – What To Know

Summertime means picnics, beach visits, and lots of outdoor fun… as well as bees, wasps, ticks, flies, mosquitos other biting, stinging bugs that can make life miserable.

Here are some to look out for this summer.

Ticks

tick on dog's fur

They may be tiny, but ticks can be huge problems for both you and your pet. They can be carriers of several dangerous diseases, most notably, Lyme disease. This year in particular, with a warm start in the spring, and increasing numbers of ticks and Lyme disease cases, is dangerous. In 2016, it was found that about 20% of ticks in Ottawa carried Lyme disease, making Ottawa officially a “high-risk” area.

Ticks are parasites that feed on the blood of their hosts, and are attracted to heat and motion. They tend to be found in areas of long grass or bushes, especially in heavily wooded areas. Once they attach, they are locked in placed, and may stay there for hours to days until their “meal” is all done.

They can attach anywhere on your dog, but often go to places with little to no hair, such as ears, legs, underbelly/groin, and toes. If you find a tick on your dog, remove it (safely) as soon as you can, as it can take 12-24 hours for tick-borne diseases to transmit.

You can remove ticks by using a set of tweezers (or a special tick removal tool). Grasp the tick as closely to the skin of your dog as possible, and lift out in a straight motion. Don’t touch the tick with your bare hands, but put it in a bag or container (if bringing it to your vet to check for disease), or dispose of it (in a fire or using rubbing alcohol). And then be sure to give your pup lots of praise for putting up with it all!

Never drop essential oils on top of a tick to remove it. This can agitate the tick, and cause it to spread disease very quickly. After the tick has been removed, you can use essential oils or antiseptic spray to help clean and comfort your dog’s skin.

Talk to your vet about medication to possibly prevent ticks, try to avoid high-tick populated areas, and check your dog for ticks at the end of walks. We thankfully are not bothered by ticks so far this year.

Black Flies

black fly bites on dogs

Another nuisance for both our dogs and us are black flies. These pests tend to hang out around areas of standing/slow moving water and compost/garbage piles. They tend to bite dogs on their underbelly and groin areas, and leave a/several distinct red circles that sometimes resembles a target.

Some of the dogs visiting Dog World come away with these bites; especially if they’ve spent a lot of time in our waterpark. But don’t fear, as they are pretty harmless! They don’t irritate most dogs, and they disappear after a few days. Some dogs may be more sensitive to these bites, and may scratch or lick the affected area, possibly leading to infection. If this occurs, you can try gently washing the area, or go to your vet if it persists.

Hot Spots

hot spots on dog's neck

Summer will also often bring on an increase in hot spots. A type of dermatitis, hot spots can show up on your dog because of bug bites, allergic reactions, being in water for too long, poor grooming, and even boredom or separation anxiety.

These spots are red, hot lesions that can be found anywhere on your dog’s body, but typically on their heads, chest, or hip areas. If left unnoticed, hot spots could become quite painful, as dogs will often lick, bite, and scratch them to relieve irritation.

If you notice hot spots on you dog, do your best to keep them dry and shaded, and remove hair or shave in the surrounding area. If they worsen, you can buy antimicrobial shampoo to help. Ask your vet for other solutions.

And always, if you ever have concerns, or questions about your dog’s health, we are always here to discuss it with you!

Enjoy Your Summer!