An Important Summertime Threat

Maggots are worse than disgusting; they are among the most dangerous summertime hazards to pets’ health. Confronting these flesh eaters and their unmistakable odor is a truly memorable experience. Maybe you don’t want to read this over breakfast.

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.  “Hot spots” spread fast.

Also known as acute moist dermatitis these rapid onset disasters 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 a dog or cat can become weak, feverish, and dehydrated.

Maggot infections require immediate treatment. Hair, caked with discharge, must be shaved close 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. Any that are left behind would rekindle the whole miserable event. This is not an at-home treatment.

Pets who spend much time outdoors need to be carefully checked every day. While maggots are more common around the anus and genital area they can be found anywhere. Avoid insecticide sprays. They can eliminate surface maggots but would worsen skin inflammation.

These are medical emergencies. Maggots can lead to advanced 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.