There are many parasites that can endanger your pet’s life, or just make it very uncomfortable. Let us help you choose the right prevention and treatment.
Flea season starts in July or August and goes until Christmas. Some years are worse than others. If your pet has fleas, you have fleas in your house as they produce thousands of egg which fall off onto your floors. There are some very safe products available to prevent fleas. There are also some very dangerous ones. Please contact us about a flea prevention program before starting on one.
Ticks are becoming much more prevalent in Ontario. As soon as the temperature goes above 3 degrees celsius for more than a couple of days, we start to see ticks, and increasingly they carry very serious diseases, such as Lyme and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
As many of the diseases carried by ticks can be life-threatening or life-long for both humans and pets, preventing ticks from attaching in the first place is essential. If you have an outdoor cat, you should be aware. Inspect them carefully when they come indoors-stroke them all over, especially around the head and neck area to be sure that no tick has attached (Usually, cats are pretty cool with being stroked all over ;-)). A tick that hasn’t yet attached will be moving around on your cat. If the tick isn’t moving and/or you can’t see it’s head, the tick likely has attached. Even though cats are fastidious groomers they can still have ticks attach and feed. Please follow the instructions below to remove the tick.
Black-legged ticks, the ones spreading Lyme disease, tend to attach around cats’ head and neck. American dog ticks tend to like cats’ ears.
It is not clear whether cats get Lyme disease but they can be infected with the bacteria that causes it. Cats also are susceptible to other tick-borne diseases. Cytauxzoon felis is spread by the Brown Dog tick. This disease causes fever, enlarged lymph nodes, anorexia, jaundice and in some cases can be fatal. The disease is not established in Canada, yet but it is in the US and likely to spread north into any tick-infested areas.
Just as with our dogs, preventing ticks from feeding on our cats helps protect people too. There is less likelihood of inadvertent tick exposure from your pet if they are on a preventative.
For our cats that go outdoors we now have Bravecto to ward off TICKS and fleas. One dose is applied to the cat’s skin every 2 months for tick protection.
If you find a tick on your cat, it should be removed immediately. Do NOT just pull it off, as the ticks head is embedded in the skin.
Tick Twisters are the easiest way to remove ticks. We carry these in tick season, so pick one up the next time you’re in and have it to hand. Place the tick twister around the tick as shown above, and twirll it around to withdraw the tick.
You can also use fine tweezers but you must be careful to get the tick’s head. Done wrong, the tick will regurgitate as you pull on it and potentially deposit infection into your pet’s bloodstream. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull it firmly away from the skin until it releases-sometimes it helps to twist a bit as you pull. Sometimes a small piece of the cat’s skin will come with the tick. They are remarkably strong and will resist being pulled off. If the head breaks off, a skin reaction or minor infection may result. If you are concerned, or if a bump forms in the area, please bring the cat in to be checked by one of our vets.
After you remove the tick, either destroy it, or if you are concerned about possible disease, save the tick, and it can be sent out for testing for a number of tick-borne diseases. We can then advise you about the best course of action for your pet.
If you are uncomfortable removing the tick yourself, or are uncertain of what a tick looks like, please call the clinic and we will be happy to see your cat and help you.
We always recommend that you bring a stool sample for examination for parasites, when you come in for your cat’s wellness exam or whenever your cat is experiencing diarrhea. We are doing this for the protection both of your cat, and you and your family. We examine the sample to look for worms such as roundworm, hookworm, and whipworm, (as well as protozoal parasites such as giardia). These worms may be present in the stool only as microscopic eggs, and not visible to the human eye. Roundworm and hookworm can both be transmitted from a cat to humans. While this is rare, it can be very serious. In children or immuno-compromised adults, round worms can cause blindness or brain damage, and hookworm can migrate through the skin, causing serious rashes. These are not risks any of us want to take. In your cat, these infestations can cause diarrhea, weight loss, and in the case of hookworm, blood loss.
If a kitten’s mother had worms as a youngster that kitten will have worms itself as a certain number lie dormant in mum until she gets pregnant. The worms then are either passed across the placenta or in the milk. Worms can cause diarrhea, coughing, weight loss and even anemia. The eggs are shed in the feces of the cat and then infect their environment just waiting to be picked up by another animal or possibly a human.
In outdoor cats, worms are easily picked up from their environment. An infected animal can shed thousands and thousands of eggs in each stool. It is common for dogs to become infected by coming in contact with the droppings of another animal while they are outside. The eggs are very sticky and can be picked up on your pet’s paws or fur and when they groom themselves they ingest the eggs and the cycle starts again.
If your pet does contract worms there are safe and effective medications to eradicate them. Good news for cat owners-no pills. There’s a medication that can be applied to the skin that does the job.