Older Pets Outdoors are at Risk

Are you eating your breakfast as you read this? If you don’t have a strong stomach you may want to enjoy a news story on murder and mayhem instead. Today’s Pet Care topic is maggots. They’re not cute and cuddly. No one has them as pets. Despite my love for all creatures great and small I’ve never gotten goose bumps watching them hatch.

Maggots are among the most dangerous summertime hazards to our pets. Similar in size to grains of rice maggots are the larvae of the common house fly. They are attracted to rotting garbage, road kill, and the sticky secretions from inflamed skin. Infestations occur during hot weather when moist, reddened lesions become quickly infected.  Often called hot spots, they can spread fast.

Hot spots are especially common in large breed elderly dogs. Having a hard time standing, an old timer may dribble a little urine. That moisture, added to the extra warmth in the groin area, irritates the skin, setting up a perfect storm. In the space of several hours infected skin starts attracting flies as the pet becomes weak and feverish,.

Maggot infestations require immediate treatment. Hair, caked with discharge, must be shaved close to the skin so the area can be scrubbed with a surgical disinfectant. In deeper wounds hundreds of maggots can burrow and hide, making it necessary to remove them with forceps and irrigate with copious amounts of fluid. Any maggots that are left behind would rekindle the whole miserable event. This is not for the do-it-yourselfer.

Pets who spend much time outdoors should be carefully checked every day. While maggots are more common around the anus and genital area they can be found anywhere. Irritated wounds on the elbows and minor cuts and scrapes draw them like, well, like flies. Use insecticide sprays only on healthy skin. They can eliminate surface maggots but would worsen inflammation.

These are medical emergencies. Maggots debilitate a pet, leading to heat stroke, severe dehydration, and runaway infections potentially killing a cat or dog in a day or less. A pet with just one of these odious creatures needs medical attention ASAP. Early cases improve quickly. Some can even go home the same day with oral antibiotics and wound care supplies.