It seems like we are seeing more foxes than ever in residential areas around Buzzards Bay these days. In the warmer months, it is common to see mother foxes scurrying around to gather food for their pups or pups exploring outside their den for the first time. We often get questions about concern for our pets when foxes are around.

Generally, foxes are skittish and will hide from humans. However, dogs (and possibly some cats) may see them as a potential new playmate or foe and try to run to meet a new friend or defend against a new intruder. This can be dangerous, not only because foxes are wild animals that will fiercely defend themselves and their pups but also because of the diseases they may carry. And it is not just Rabies and Leptospirosis (for which we have effective vaccines), but also parasites like mange and worms.

As close relatives of foxes, dogs are especially susceptible to many fox parasites. Cats are also susceptible to some of these parasites. Most pet owners are aware of intestinal parasites and faithfully bring a fecal sample to their vet routinely to check for these worms. In addition, most heartworm prevention products also help prevent some of these worms from infecting pets.

Recently, many foxes in Massachusetts have been sighted that clearly have a patchy or crusty haircoat. This is an indication that they have mange, otherwise known as Sarcoptes. Sarcoptes mites burrow into the skin, causing intense itching, crusting, and hair loss. The parasitic infection is very contagious to dogs, cats, and humans through direct contact or contact with contaminated bedding or dens. Luckily the mites only live about 36 hours in the environment. Sarcoptes mites are the cause of scabies in humans. Since humans are not the natural host for these mites, the skin rash will go away on its own but may require medical attention. However, these mites love to live on our pets, especially dogs and can make your dog horribly itchy and uncomfortable. Fortunately, many very safe and effective products protect against mange and other very common parasites like fleas and ticks.

The team at Buzzards Bay Veterinary Associates believes in pet parasite prevention in addition to regular wellness care. If your pet is not currently on parasite prevention medication, please contact us immediately to discuss the best options for them.

What can you do to keep your pets safe?

Cats:

  • Keep them indoors so they won’t get into a fight with wildlife.
  • Use parasite prevention products recommended by your veterinarian.
  • Have a fecal sample checked for parasites at routine intervals.

Dogs:

  • Keep dogs on leash so they cannot chase after wildlife.
  • Do not allow dogs to eat wildlife droppings.
  • Do not allow dogs to put their heads under porches, into stone walls, or other locations that are common locations for wildlife dens.
  • Use parasite prevention products recommended by your veterinarian. If you have seen foxes around, a product that prevents mange is recommended.
  • Have a fecal sample checked for parasites at routine intervals.

 

Have questions? 

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