Spring is just around the corner and with warmer weather arriving, fleas will start to reappear. Fleas are very prolific parasites, in fact, one flea can produce 50-100 eggs/day. Guthrie Pet Hospital recommends preventative measures to prevent infestations. This week Dr. Coffin will discuss health issues in cats caused by fleas.
Health risks caused by fleas:
- Flea allergy dermatitis: This is the most common health problem caused by fleas in cats. Some cats will develop an allergic reaction to flea saliva. Cats that are allergic to flea saliva are so sensitive that one flea bite can cause the cat to scratch or itch for up to one month. Hair loss around the rear end is a common sign for flea allergy dermatitis. Miliary dermatitis, which is small scabs all over their body, is another skin condition which is common in cats with flea allergy dermatitis. According to Dr. Coffin, it can be difficult to find a live flea on cats with flea allergy dermatitis, because they know they are allergic to the flea, so they eat it to prevent it from biting them again.
- Anemia: This usually only occurs with severe infestations. Small kittens or debilitated older cats are affected more than any other age groups. Surprising, one flea can consume many times its weight in blood over its lifetime. The anemia can be so severe that it is life threatening and requires a blood transfusion.
- Tapeworms: For tapeworms to complete their life cycle, they must go through an intermediate host, such as a rodent or a flea. When a cat eats an infected flea, the tapeworm larvae will develop into an adult tapeworm in their intestinal tract.
- Mycoplasma Haemofelis: M.Haemofelis is a bacterium that attaches to red blood cells and causes Feline Infectious Anemia. Fleas and other arthropods are the source of infection to cats. If left untreated, up to one-third of infected cats die from severe anemia.
Even indoor only cats can become infested with fleas, so Dr. Coffin and the staff at Guthrie Pet Hospital recommend regular prevention. Dr. Coffin says that topical products are the easiest flea products to use on cats and there are many effective topical products available from your veterinarian. Please consult your veterinarian about which product is best for your cat and do not use dog flea products on your cat.
During the month of March, you can enter into our contest to win a year’s supply of flea/tick medication with every purchase of flea/tick medication you purchase from Guthrie Pet Hospital for your dog or cat.