A Fort Saskatchewan veterinarian says that bug bites are the likely culprit behind many of the skin rashes showing up on local dogs and cats this spring.
The past couple months have seen concerned animal owners in the Fort Saskatchewan area turning to social media to share photos of red spots and other rashes they’ve noticed on their dogs.
“This year especially, we've been seeing these target kind of lesions or rashes, especially on dog or cat's bellies and that kind of thing. The vast majority of them are some form of bug bite,” said Dr. Lanni Lafrance, who practices at the Fort Saskatchewan Veterinary Clinic.
Lafrance points to no-see-ums, a type of biting midge, and backyard ant colonies as two sources of insect-related rashes in dogs. It’s not always possible to link a case of bug bites to a specific type of insect, she said, but there are signs pet owners can watch for.
“Usually the bite is right in the middle and then the bruising is the halo of red bruising kind of around it. So that's where you get this target lesion that we talk about,” Lafrance explained, adding that people should talk to their vet about appropriate treatment if the bites appear to be itchy.
Lafrance cautions pet owners that not all spots are caused by insects -- some rashes that resemble bug bites may have more serious origins. Blood clotting problems, for instance, can cause bleeding that shows up as bruises that people may mistake for bite reactions.
“We have had the occasional case where there's a dog with a bleeding problem, maybe it got into rat poison, wasn't clotting blood properly,” Lafrance said. 

Allergy flareups and skin infections can also cause skin symptoms in animals. Lafrance reminds pet owners to seek veterinary advice rather than assume an insect-related cause for rashes.

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