Jul 26 2012

Hello Beach weather and oops swimmer’s itch!

Summer is finally here!

With the temperature going above 30 degrees, we tend to flock to the local beaches. Along with us needing to cool off, our four legged friends deserve a dip as well.

The one thing that we may not think about is the fact that dogs need to be wary about swimmer’s itch as well.

What is swimmer’s itch?

It is a temporary, very itchy rash caused by a parasite called schistosomes. Schistosomes are little worms that are found in many lakes and ponds in British Columbia. The parasite themselves spend their life cycle in the bodies of water snails and in the blood stream of ducks and other water fowl. The larvae itself leave the snail host, and then travel near the surface of the water to hopefully hitch a ride on a duck or other water fowl. Mistakenly they hitch a ride onto our dogs or on us. Upon leaving the water, these larvae start to burrow under the skin.

The itchy rash that develops is an allergic reaction to this invasion.

How can we avoid swimmer’s itch?

There is no way to entirely avoid swimmer’s itch unless you and your pet avoid going to lakes or ponds altogether. Paying heed to warning signs posted at public beaches and other hotbed areas. There may be more snails and larvae around plants, so avoid areas with lots of weed growth. There also tend to be more larvae around the shore, so try to enter the water off of a dock in an approved swimming area.

Most importantly, dry yourself as well as your K9 friend off quickly and thoroughly with a dry towel.

If a rash develops, and your pet is uncomfortable and constantly scratching. Consult your veterinarian, to discuss the best course of treatment to alleviate symptoms.