Fleas can be the scourge of any pet. A pet infected with fleas will scratch, lick, chew, or bite themselves. Additionally, fleas can cause skin inflammation, hair loss, anemia, dehydration, trigger allergies, and spread tapeworms and Lyme disease.
Fleas are external parasites, which feed on the blood of dogs, cats, and even humans! Fleas need blood to live, and adult female fleas need blood to reproduce, however most fleas can survive for nearly 3 months without having a blood-meal. A female flea can lay nearly 25 to 50 eggs per day, and then these eggs mature into adult fleas within 3 to 4 weeks. An adult flea is small, about the size of the head of a pin. The presence of "flea dirt" on your pet, dark specks of digested blood, is evidence of a flea infestation.
A flea infestation can occur year round. Ways of ridding fleas from your pet included flea collars, oral pills, topical treatments, sprays, and flea-removal shampoos. Other ways of ridding fleas include thoroughly vacuuming the household and washing the pet's bedding in hot water. Consult your veterinarian for the best flea eradication and prevention for your pet.
Sources -- fleabites.net, petmd.com, and wikipedia.org
A microchip is an essential part of pet ownership. A microchip is a small, electronic device implanted under the skin of your pet. A vet or other trained individual painlessly injects the chip with a syringe. The microchip contains information regarding your pet.
If your beloved pet gets loose, it can be scanned by any vet or by Animal Control (the "dog pound") and quickly returned back to you. If your pet ends up at Animal Control, it will be scanned for a microchip within 24 hours after the intake of each dog or cat. If a microchip is present, Animal Control will contact the microchip company. By Illinois law, Animal Control has 7 days to contact the owner with the info provided by the microchip company. If the microchip company retrieves an old address or an old phone number, then it is very difficult to return your pet. If no owner can be found after 7 days, Animal Control can put your pet up for adoption, send it to a rescue, or have it euthanized.
Please, everyone needs to contact your microchip company to check and update your information. Provide a mailing address, phone number, and email. This will assure your pet is returned to you if it gets lost.
Sources -- wikipedia.org and ilga.gov
Heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) is a parasitic roundworm infection most common in dogs, although infection of other species, such as cats and even humans, can occur. Heartworms are spread by the mosquito, which bites the dog, thus spreading the microscopic heartworm larvae. Once in the dog, the larvae will mature into adults (and up to 12 inches in length!) and will reside in the heart, lungs, and associated arteries. Adult heartworms will reproduce within the dog, producing microscopic larvae for a mosquito to transfer to other animals. Adult heartworms can live up to 7 years.
Symptoms of heartworm infection include coughing, weight loss, lethargy, and heart failure. Do not wait until symptoms occur, as your pet may be asymptomatic for several months. If your pet is exposed to mosquitoes, then you pet is certainly exposed to heartworm infection. Heartworm infection is quite common and detrimental to your pet's health.
Monthly preventative measures are the best way to stop heartworms in the first place. Preventative medicine will kill off the heartworm larvae before they can mature (in 51 days) and then start reproducing (in 7 months). Mature heartworms cannot be killed off with preventative measures, and instead must be addressed with other alternative treatments (usually arsenic-based medicines). The American Heartworm Society recommends year-round prevention, and not just treating your pet during the mosquito season. A side benefit of heartworm treatment is that it can be effective in controlling other internal and external parasites. Oral, topical, and injectable medicines are available; ask your veterinarian.
Sources -- aspca.org, heartwormsociety.org, and wikipedia.com
Feline distemper (feline panleukopenia virus, FPV) is a viral infection that is highly contagious. Kittens and older cats are especially vulnerable to this virus. Symptoms include dehydration, malnutrition, and even death. Also, the immune system can be compromised, which then predisposes the cat to secondary infections. No cat is immune nor can be isolated from this disease.
Your veterinarian can diagnose and treat feline distemper, but vaccination is the best route to follow in preventing this disease in the first place. This disease is spread from other infected cats, infected fleas, and infected materials such as bedding. Feline distemper is related to canine distemper, but is distinct and cannot be spread between these species. Feline distemper is not transmissible to humans.
Sources -- petmd.com and wikipedia.com
H3N2 and H3N8
Canine influenza is a contagious respiratory disease and has affected many dogs in the midwest recently (since April 2015). Canine flu is easily spread in confined spaces, e.g. kennels and shelters. Symptoms, if present, include persistent cough, runny nose, and fever. Severe symptoms include pneumonia and death, although mortality is low with this type of virus. Dogs that are coughing or showing other signs of respiratory disease should not be exposed to other dogs.
No vaccine is yet proven to treat the H3N2 strain, but general treatment includes antibotics. A vaccine is available for the older H3N8 strain. Neither strain is contagious to humans, however the H3N2 strain could sicken cats.
Sources -- cdc.gov, wikipedia.com, and yahoo.com