Our editors here at petMD encourage we Daily Vet bloggers to emphasize seasonally significant problems for pets. Other than the obvious holiday precautions, the effects of seasonal weather changes on health are helpful to our readers. However, in some parts of the U.S., the lack of significant seasonal weather changes has little impact on the types of medical problems experienced by pets. Seasonal changes bring very little change to the daily veterinary practice routine.
In southern California, where I practice, and in Florida, where petMD is based, winter temperatures are often in the 90s. The temperature moderating effect of the ocean makes the same true along the southern tip of the Gulf of Mexico states. Some medical conditions are with us the entire 12 months of the year.
In many parts of the country, the sub-freezing winter temperatures make flea control unnecessary for 4-6 months. The optimum temperature for the flea life cycle is 70-85oF at 70% humidity. These are not uncommon winter conditions in warm locations.
Pets in Ann Arbor Michigan do not need flea products on January 1st. But here in California, I am often treating a case of flea allergy dermatitis one day after the Rose Bowl parade. Despite showing the owners the actual fleas, they are convinced it is impossible because they never had that problem in the winter in Des Moines, Iowa. In fact they stopped using flea control on September 21st, the first day of autumn. Emphasizing that pets need 12 month protection for fleas is generally met with disbelief and skepticism.
Most pet allergies result from the inhalation of pollens from plants, grasses and fungi. This of course requires blossoms. The loss of leaves and the browning of grasses in cold climates signal the end to any blossoms and pollen production. Mushrooms are seldom seen emerging from the snow cover.
Blooming can occur year round in Mediterranean and tropical climates. Pollens blow in the winter winds and pets start itching. Mushrooms and other microscopic fungi are not uncommon in the moist winter months. Many of my environmental allergy patients have their worst episodes of allergies starting around Thanksgiving. Often pet owners are given the Christmas gift of a trip to my office in order to relieve their pet’s non-stop itching due to intense pollen allergies. Thank you, Santa.
Bee Sting Reactions
Reactions to bee stings are the most common allergic emergency here in southern California. The puffy lips, face and eyelids that almost entirely hide the eyes are so characteristic, even our reception staff members can readily identify the problem. The incidence of the condition only slightly decreases in the fall and winter months.
The abundance of blooming plants and warmer temperatures during winter do not force our bees to “hibernate” for the winter. Last Sunday my dog Roxy’s favorite “sniffing” plant was all abuzz with bees. Her slow, meticulous collecting of odors seemed to match the bees’ fixed diligence, so she and the bees happily shared the blossoms. Fortunately she is not allergic to bee stings.
So, other than holiday warnings, there are not many “seasonal sensitive” health tips to be found from this Daily Vet. Enjoy the Holidays!
Dr. Ken Tudor