Fleas uncommon, but annoying
EAGLE COUNTY ” Warm weather is on its way and the question about parasites infesting our pets has been asked a few times. So here are a few facts about these creatures.
Unfortunately there are some nasty parasites that infect our pets. Fleas usually do not live comfortably at higher elevations and in our dry climate. But, nowadays, it seems like anything goes.
I am always very surprised when I see one of my patients scratching due to fleas in this beautiful Vail Valley. There is not the degree of infestation as in warm coastal climates, such as California or Florida.
There have been occasional fleas seen on dogs in Vail but it is of a lesser degree. Fleas can infest cats as well as dogs. I have seen fleas on indoor cats too! There are some very safe and effective flea control products on the market.
These nasty fleas are easy to spot if there are large numbers of them, but most of the time you will first notice the black flea dirt on your pet. This is actually the flea feces, yuk.
Sometimes the flea will bite the dog inject its saliva into the pet and then jump off the dog, never to be seen again. So it may be challenging to diagnose flea bites.
Fleas cannot only transmit disease such as tapeworms, but can cause a hypersensitive skin. Many dogs and cats are allergic to the flea saliva. If this is the case, then it does not require too many flea bites to set off the allergic, very itchy skin reaction. The common symptoms are: scratching, licking, chewing and biting.
The affected areas on dogs and cats are different. Dogs are mostly affected on top of the hip are extending to the top of the base of the tail, back of the thighs and parts of the belly. Cats most commonly have crusty lesions around the head and neck.
If fleas are the cause of the allergic skin problem and the damage to the skin from itching is great, then anti-inflammatories (corticosteroids) might be necessary while the fleas are being controlled.
Again there are many new products to control the flea population and to keep them away. These are safe for cats and dogs.
If fleas have become a problem with your pets, remember to treat your household as well. Do not use insecticide sprays and dips on dogs and cats less than 3 months of old, and read the directions on the labels before using a product. Fortunately these parasites can be controlled safely.
Dr. Nadine Lober can be reached at 949-7972