Illustrated Articles

Parasites

  • An allergy occurs when the cat's immune system overreacts or is hypersensitive to foreign substances called allergens. When a flea bites a cat to consume a blood meal, some of its saliva is injected into the skin. In an allergic cat, just one bite can result in intense itching that can last for days. Many flea-allergic cats chew or lick the hair off their legs. Since the flea saliva causes the reaction, the most important treatment for flea allergy is to prevent fleabites by treating the cat and environment for fleas. Corticosteroids can be used to block the allergic reaction and give immediate relief to a cat suffering from the intense itching of FAD.

  • Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is a leading cause of allergic reactions in dogs. It is the antigens or proteins in the flea saliva that cause an intensely itchy response to sensitive dogs. Itching and hair loss in the region from the middle of the back to the tail base and down the rear legs (the flea triangle) is often associated with FAD. Strict flea control is essential in the prevention and treatment of FAD. Occasionally corticosteroids are used to reduce the itching in patients with severe signs of FAD.

  • The most common flea found on cats and dogs is the cat flea, although any species of fleas, including fleas from rabbits, squirrels or other wildlife, can be found on cats. Even though fleas may be in your house, you probably will not see them. Fleas need to be eliminated from 1) your cat, 2) any other cats and dogs that you have, 3) your home and yard. Although most topical insecticides kill adult fleas, many have limited effectiveness because they only work for a few hours after application. Ensure that the product is labelled for use in cats, as some dog products may be poisonous to cats.

  • Successful flea control involves both eliminating fleas from your dog and controlling fleas in your environment. Dogs and cats share the same fleas, and fleas can travel from one animal to another. Therefore, it is important that all pets in your home are on a flea preventive program. Successful flea control includes treating both your pet(s) and the environment.

  • Flea infestation is a common problem in pet ferrets, especially in ferrets that go outdoors or live in a house with dogs, cats, or other animals who have fleas. Affected ferrets may or may not be itchy depending on the sensitivity of the individual animal to flea bites. Early in the infestation, there may be no signs that your ferret even has fleas. Young ferrets with heavy infestations may even become anemic as the fleas feed over time. Some topical medications used to treat fleas in dogs and cats appear to be safe in ferrets but should only be used under the guidance of a veterinarian familiar with ferrets.

  • Hedgehogs can acquire external parasites. Flea infestation is not a common problem in pet hedgehogs. Fleas are a small insect parasite that may take up residence on your hedgehog, especially if exposed to fleas outdoors or in a house with dogs, cats or other animals who themselves have fleas.

  • Rabbits can become infested with fleas, especially if they go outside or live in a house with other pets that have fleas. Rabbits with fleas may show no signs or may bite, lick, or scratch themselves. Young rabbits with heavy infestations may become anemic. There are no rabbit-specific drugs for managing fleas. Certain topical cat medications appear to be safe but should only be used under the guidance of a veterinarian familiar with rabbits. It is very important to treat the environment, as well as the pet.

  • Giardiasis is an intestinal infection in humans and animals, caused by a microscopic protozoan parasite. The parasite occurs worldwide and is a common cause of "Traveler's Diarrhea" in people. Outdoor enthusiasts who inadvertently consume contaminated water may develop "beaver fever", which is another name for giardiasis in people.

  • Harvest mites, also known as red bugs, trombiculid mites, scrub-itch mites, berry bugs or, in their larval stage as chiggers, are mites that are commonly found in forests and grasslands. Harvest mites are relatives of spiders.

  • Guinea pigs are generally hardy, healthy animals but are susceptible to certain diseases. They cannot make their own vitamin C and require supplementation or they may develop scurvy. Guinea pigs get various tumors, particularly skin and mammary tumors. Guinea pigs also get abscesses (accumulations of pus and bacteria) in lymph nodes, skin, muscles, teeth, bones, and internal organs. They are very prone to development of urinary calculi that form in the bladder, kidneys, or ureters which may become lodged, causing a life-threatening obstruction. In addition, guinea pigs often are affected by ringworm and can get fleas and lice. Barbering is a problem, usually associated with boredom, in which the guinea pig chews or barbers its own hair or the hair of its cage-mate. Pododermatitis, or bumblefoot, in which sores develop on the bottom of the feet from pressure, is common in overweight animals housed on wire-bottomed or dirty cages that abrade the feet.