Parasites and our domestic animals
Our dogs and cats are treated like family members, that's why we all strive at keeping our animals healthy. Here are a few tips for you to understand what parasites are and how to treat them.
External parasites usually consists of fleas and ticks. While fleas are visible to the naked eye, mites can only be detected through a microscope.
A cat can have fleas even if it isn't scratching. Cats who are itchy are often allergic to the flea's saliva. As a result, each flea bite causes intense itching, redness of the skin and small red bumps. Just a few bites on a highly allergic animal may cause a severe reaction. Flea allergic dermatitis in cats is a very common dermatological condition. The problem is much worse in the summer and autumn in areas where the winters are cold. In warm climates, it is a year-round problem. Fleas reproduce in the animal's environment, i.e. at home during the winter. If your cat has fleas, don't just treat him - treat all the other animals in the house and the surrounding environment. There are a number of dips, sprays, or shampoos to use for treatment against fleas.
Ticks are other important parasites. To remove a tick, grasp it near the cat's skin with tweezers. Apply gentle traction to remove the entire head and mouth parts. Do not twist. Be careful not to puncture or crush the body to avoid releasing the eggs to the surroundings. In addition, check your cat's environment and treat accordingly. Ticks jump onto your cat as he or she strolls through tall grass or bushes. Some cats are allergic to tick bites and can develop what's called a "hot spot", an inflammation that causes the cat to chew and/or lick the area until it becomes ulcerated, often needing medical attention. Some ticks carry Lyme Disease, Erlichiosis or babesiosis, serious illnesses from which some animals do not recover. Ask your veterinarian about risk and medication to fight ticks.
For cats, the three more important mites’ species are:
• Notoedres cati: Cause of feline sarcoptic mange. Most common signs are intense itching, the cat is restless and keeps scratching and biting the affected areas. The skin turns reddish and swollen and hair loss is visible. Its contagious through direct contact with an infected animal, both to humans and other cats or dogs. It might be needed to cut the hair for treatment;
• Demodex canis: Cause demodicosis in cats, a non-contagious form of mange. These mites are natural inhabitants of the cat’s skin and only cause disease when there are immune deficiencies associated. This kind of mange is less common in cats than it is in dogs;
• Otodectes cynotis: Tiny parasites that live on the surface of the skin lining in the ear canal. The incidence of this mite is much higher in cats than it is in dogs. They pierce the skin surface to feed, causing inflammation and discomfort. If left untreated, bacterial infections and loss of hearing may result.
Some signs observed are:
- Excessive and persistent scratching around the ears;
- Head shaking;
- Restless behaviour;
- The ears are painful to the touch and the pet may cry out in pain;
- Brown substance visible in the ears;
- A foul-smelling odour from ears.
Ask your vet for specific treatments for each one of these mites.
In cats, the primary sites inhabited by internal parasites are the gastrointestinal tract, the lungs, the pancreas, and the liver. Low numbers of parasites often are not detected because the cat does not show any clinical signs of infection. Infections typically become pathogenic when there are large numbers of parasites present, when they interfere with the normal functioning of the organ that they inhabit, or when the cat is malnourished or immunocompromised.
Mosquitoes transmit parasites that invade the heart and circulatory system, causing Hearth Worm Disease. This condition is less frequent in cats than it is in dogs, but its incidence have been increasing in the last years. This infection may cause signs as anorexia, coughing, fever, difficulty to breathe, vomiting and weight loss. The disease can be prevented by having your pet tested every two or three years, as well as by giving your pet a preventive medication during mosquito season and when travelling to warm climates.
Digistive system parasites
Stomach or intestinal parasites can be transmitted in the mother's womb, through direct contact with an infected animal or by eating a parasitized substance. The most important types are roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms and lungworms. Roundworms larvae may migrate into tissues of many animals included man if they are swallowed. This infection could be asymptomatic or may present some uncomfortable signs, so you should be aware about your cat having roundworms.
Parasites in your cat are may can cause diarrhoea, vomiting or developmental delays. A twice-yearly stool examination performed by your veterinarian can detect parasites and quickly remedy the situation. Your veterinarian will indicate you the most effective agent for each one of the parasites above.