Cats and dogs are lovable creatures. There are many health conditions that affect the overall well-being of your beloved canine and feline friends. Flea infestation is one of the devastating medical conditions that badly impacts the performance and health of your pet.
As you know, fleas become populous during the summer season and now the summer is coming and bringing fleas as well. Pet owners show concerns and ask so many questions about the flea infestation are dogs and cats and the medical complications which are caused by them. For example,
How do fleas spread various infections to dogs and cats?
Can fleas spread tapeworms to your beloved pets?
How do fleas participate in the transmission of Bartonella infection in cats and dogs?
Can fleas cause anemia in cats and dogs?
What is flea allergy in dogs and cats?
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In this blog, we will discuss flea infestation in dogs and cats and all associated medical complications under the light of scientific literature and general field experience.
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Why Fleas Are Considered Annoying For Cats And Dogs?
Fleas are the major vectors that transmit various infections to your dogs and cats through bite/saliva. They harbor many infectious agents (Bartonella bacteria) and other agents which cause murine typhus, Rocky mountain spotty fever, Anaplasmosis, Lyme disease in your beloved cats & dogs. Fleas get these infectious agents after biting an infected animal and transmit them to your healthy cats and dogs.
This is why fleas are considered as “The competent vector for various infectious agents”. Being a responsible owner, you should make an effective strategy before controlling these bugging creatures before the arrival of summer.
What Are 5 Common Problems That Fleas Cause In Dogs And Cats?
Here we are going to highlight, the most important medical complications which fleas cause in dogs and cats.
Bartonellosis (Cat scratch fever)
This is a zoonotic infection (that can be easily transmitted from animals to human beings). This is a bacterial infection that can become life-threatening for human beings.
Dogs and cats become infected with this bacterium only after being bitten by a carrier flea (acts as a vector). Key signs of Bartonella infection in cats and dogs include diarrhea, vomiting swelling of lymph nodes, and seizures.
This is important to make an effective flea control strategy after discussing it with your vet. Treatment of Bartonellosis in dogs and cats include high generation antibiotic. Talk to your vet, if your suspect this devastating disease in your beloved pet.
This is surprising to know that fleas also carry tapeworm larvae that are also the biggest threat for your beloved canine and feline friend. Dogs/cats ingest the flea carrying tapeworm larvae or eggs.
Furthermore, tapeworm completes its life cycle inside the intestine of your dog or cat and becomes mature (With a full segmented body over there). Tapeworm infestation in dogs and cats leads to nutritional deficiency, anemia, drastic reduction in weight, and fatigue.
All along with the previously mentioned signs and symptoms, chronic constipation and diarrhea have also been observed in many cases. If you suspect tapeworms (White-colored, rice grains) in your pet’s stool, talk to your vet. Start tapeworm therapy as early as possible because it can put your precious dog’s/cat’s life in danger.
This is also another concerning medical condition for cats and dog owners. Anemia is a medical term that is used to denote blood deficiency. Just like humans, dogs need a sufficient amount of red blood cells to stay active and energetic. Loss of blood causes so many complications in dogs and cats and badly impacts their routine activities and overall health. Fleas can bite your pet hundreds of times a day.
Obviously, this can lead to flea-associated anemia in your pets. Key signs of this condition include paleness of skin, lethargy, lack of concentration, loss of appetite, and general body weakness. If you observe these signs in your dog and cat, talk to your vet and discuss this issue with him or her. Also, make sure your pet is getting the right nutrients by giving him or her daily vitamins.
According to a research study, a flea can eat 15 times their body weight in the blood. So, they cause alarming conditions for the little kittens and puppies with low blood volume or in diseased/Immunocompromised older cats and dogs.
Treatment strategy could include flea eradication plans along with supportive therapy. All along with that, your vet can recommend blood transfusion along with other medications.
Fleas are highly allergic to some cats and dogs. Some dogs even show allergic reactions even with a single bite of a flea.
A pet suffering from flea-inflicted dermatitis would experience constants scratching, redness, biting around the groin or tail, and licking. You can also observe bumps or scabs on your dog’s body especially on the neck or back area.
Treatment lines of action can include the use of anti-flea medication and the development of an effective pest management plan. Also, talk to your vet for further guidelines to control flea infestation in your pets.
Hotspots can virtually develop in any area of your pet’s body. They are mostly seen on the chest, hips, and head of the dogs. On the other hand, tail, thigh, or neck in the cats.
They form on your pet’s skin due to excessive scratching and chewing of the skin. This is very important to keep in mind that quick and prompt treatment of hotspots is very essential or else they can increase in size and cause further complications.
Various anti-bacterial shampoos and tea tree oils can be used to soothe the itchiness and relieve the pain. However, you can take further guidelines from your vet in this regard.
How You Can Control Fleas In Your Dogs And Cats?
Devising a flea eradication plan is very crucial to safeguard the precious lives of your beloved pets. Start with the inspection of your yard or the area where you keep your pets. Properly clean the area; deeply monitor the cracks and hidden areas.
Secondly, regularly monitor the fur of your pet. Do a thorough inspection and take care of the overall hygiene of your beloved pet. If you spot fleas on your pet’s skin, wear latex gloves and remove them properly. You can use flea removers or tweezers to do this task. Additionally, there are different ways to control fleas (Make an integrated flea prevention scheme).
Use collars, pills on your pet’s skin. These things will act as a shield against annoying fleas. All along with that, after discussing with your vet, you can also use anti-flea shampoos or fast-acting chemicals to get rid of fleas in a few hours. Keep in mind that an effective flea control program can protect your precious dogs and cats from harmful infections and allergies.
Note: There are various medications/herbal sprays are available in the market. This is always better to discuss with your vet before using any medication in your dog and cat. In case of any emergency, immediately call your vet.
How You Can Break The Flea Cycle?
This is another important but technical concept that every pet owner must know. Fleas are ectoparasites that feed on your dog and cat’s blood. There are various stages in the entire life cycle of fleas. You can break the cycle by destroying their dormant eggs through vacuuming and regularly cleaning your pet’s living area. This is how it is possible to break the entire life cycle of fleas and control them in an effective way.
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A flea infestation can cause mild to life-threatening medical conditions in cats and dogs. Before the arrival of summer, this is very important to make a flea control program to protect the precious health of your pets. Take care of the overall hygiene of your pet along with its living area.
Stay in touch with your vet. In case, you find any sign or symptom in your dog or cat, report it to your vet. Kick start the treatment as soon as possible.
Bond, R., Riddle, A., Mottram, L., Beugnet, F. and Stevenson, R., 2007. Survey of flea infestation in dogs and cats in the United Kingdom during 2005. Veterinary Record, 160(15), pp.503-506.
Rust, M.K., 2005. Advances in the control of Ctenocephalides felis (cat flea) on cats and dogs. Trends in parasitology, 21(5), pp.232-236.
Cooper, A.R., Nixon, E., Rose Vineer, H., Abdullah, S., Newbury, H. and Wall, R., 2020. Fleas infesting cats and dogs in Great Britain: spatial distribution of infestation risk and its relation to treatment. Medical and Veterinary Entomology, 34(4), pp.452-458.
Beugnet, F., Labuschagne, M., Fourie, J., Jacques, G., Farkas, R., Cozma, V., Halos, L., Hellmann, K., Knaus, M. and Rehbein, S., 2014. Occurrence of Dipylidium caninum in fleas from client-owned cats and dogs in Europe using a new PCR detection assay. Veterinary Parasitology, 205(1-2), pp.300-306.
Chesney, C.J., 1995. Species of flea found on cats and dogs in south west England: further evidence of their polyxenous state and implications for flea control. The Veterinary Record, 136(14), pp.356-358.
Beck, W., Boch, K., Mackensen, H., Wiegand, B. and Pfister, K., 2006. Qualitative and quantitative observations on the flea population dynamics of dogs and cats in several areas of Germany. Veterinary parasitology, 137(1-2), pp.130-136.