Posts in Category: Flea allergies
According to the AVMA, in 2007 there were 72 million pet dogs, 82 million pet cats and over 4 million pet birds. At least 3% of the US households own a reptile. Almost one half of those pet owners consider their pets to be a member of the family. We are a pet loving country. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that we can share more than love with our pets. Did you know that according to the Center for Disease Control that almost 14% of the US population has been infected with Toxacara (roundworm of dogs and cats). That’s because up to 30% of dogs fewer than 6 months of age and 25% of all cats are infected with roundworms.
Cats and dogs can carry Roundworms, Tapeworms, Hookworms, Leptospirosis, Ringworm and Rabies to name a few. Pocket pets and reptiles can carry Salmonella. Birds can also carry Salmonella as well as Psittacosis (a bacterial disease).
Who is most at risk? According to our friends at CAPC (Companion Animal Parasite Council), it is generally those who come in contact with the soil the most often. That includes, gardeners, plumbers, sunbathers and of course children. Immune compromised individuals need to be particularly careful.
So should we get rid of all of our pets? No need to get so carried away. Following are some relatively simple measures you can take to control the risk of zoonotic transmission in your family.
- Wash your hands after handling pets, soil and feces. Be especially vigilant with youngsters.
- Don’t eat or smoke while you handle your pet. Especially if it is a reptile, bird or pocket pet.
- Pets and food preparation do not go together.
- Keep your pets on a regular schedule of deworming. Dogs and cats should be on broad spectrum, year round anti-parasitic products.
- Get annual fecal parasite checks. That’s because you may give your pet his preventative but he may either spit it out or throw it up later on.
- Treat pets and their surroundings for fleas.
- Dispose of pet feces on a daily basis.
- Cover up your children’s sandbox when it’s not in use.
- Feed only cooked, canned or dry dog and cat food.
- Don’t allow birds or reptiles to roam loose in the house.
- If you are scratched by your pet, wash the area thoroughly.
- Vaccinate. Yes, there is some risk (1/10,000) of soft tissue sarcomas in cats with the use of Rabies and Feline Leukemia vaccines. We try to make it safer by vaccinating every 3 years. However, our biggest concern is that Rabies is out there and it kills all of us all the time.
- Immune compromised individuals should not own reptiles or amphibians.
- Don’t let your dog or cat drink from the toilet bowl. According to CAPC this can spread human adapted strains of parasites to pets
Who hates fleas? Everybody hates fleas! Ctenocephalides canis or felis better known as the common flea is not a visitor anyone ever welcomes to their home. For those of us who have had to deal with a flea infestation- once is definitely enough! Aside from the obvious “yuck” factor, there are a lot of good reasons to avoid this hopping, biting scourge of the insect world.
- Fleas make their living by biting other animals and feeding on their blood. When fleas bite they inject saliva into the skin of their host which can cause inflammation, itching, allergic dermatitis and hair loss. Even worse, if the host is small enough or the number of fleas’ large enough, anemia can result from blood loss.
- Fleas don’t just bite your pet. They bite you. They bite your children. Everybody gets itchy.
- A single female flea can lay up to 50 eggs each day and up to 2000 eggs in her short life time!!! Of course by the time you discover that your pet has fleas, there are most likely eggs and larva throughout your home.
- Fleas act as a transport vehicle for the aptly named “Flea” tapeworm. Pets ingest fleas as they groom. Once the flea is in the digestive system, the larva breaks free and finds a home in your pet’s intestines. An adult tapeworm can grow up to 75 cm (29.5 inches). According to CPAC (Companion Animal Parasite Council), “Infections of children with D. caninum following ingestion of an infected flea are occasionally reported. The disease induced in the child is generally mild, confined to the intestinal tract, and readily treated, but can still be distressing to the family.”
- Fleas carry the Plague – the Bubonic Plague. This is particularly important in the Rocky Mountain States.
- Fleas carry Typhus and yes it can be transmitted to humans. According to Pubmed Health, “Typhus is caused by one of two types of bacteria: Rickettsia typhi or Rickettsia prowazekii.” The form of typhus depends on which type of bacteria causes the infection. Murine typhus occurs in the southeastern and southern United States, often during the summer and fall. It is rarely deadly. Risk factors for murine typhus include:
- Exposure to rat fleas or feces
- Exposure to other animals such as cats, opossums, raccoons, skunks and rats
- Fleas can help to transmit “Cat Scratch” disease from one cat to another. We humans get Cat Scratch Fever when we are scratched by an infected feline.
- Fleas can transmit Mycoplasma haemofelis a blood borne parasite that can cause damage to the red calls which results in anemia in your pet.
- Even if your pet never goes outdoors, you can carry fleas into the house on your pants legs. Fleas can survive the winter just fine as long as you continue to heat your home.
- Once there is an established flea infestation, it can be time consuming and expensive to resolve. Like so many other problems fleas are much easier to prevent than alleviate.
I don’t know about you but I’m going to go make sure my dog is up to date on his flea prevention.