Fleas are a big problem for most pet owners irrespective of the climate one is living in. However, most pet owners are ignorant of the truth about fleas. They believe that fleas simply lead to scratching and, at the most, irritability in pets. As a result, many tend to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye when they are warned of the fact that flea bites kill pets.
So can flea bites really kill pets or is that a huge exaggeration?
Most pet owners do not believe that flea bites can kill pets. However, come to think of it: a single flea, in its lifetime needs a blood meal every few days and, in a single feeding, can drink enough blood to deplete your pet of its vital red blood cells. If your pet has around 70 fleas on it, they would consume approximately 1 milliliters of blood in a matter of a few days. This is sufficient to cause severe anemia in small puppies, kittens and weaker older animals. If left untreated, fleas reproduce and multiply rapidly, killing the already weakened pets in less than one month. Smaller or diseased pets are at a greater risk from such major flea infestations.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis
Flea allergy dermatitis is another condition occurring in pets that are particularly sensitive to flea saliva. When the flea bites the pet, it injects its saliva into the pet’s blood to make it easier for feeding and sucking. Since some pets are extremely allergic to this flea saliva, their bodies secrete histamine to counter the proteins in it. This leads to an allergic reaction that can cause excessive scratching, irritation and inflamed skin on the pets. Even a single flea can lead to intense scratching that can make your pet restless, anxious, irritated or nervous- a condition called neurodermatoses. Moreover, some pets can even go into an anaphylactic shock requiring immediate medical attention. Thus, flea bites CAN kill your pets and should NEVER be ignored.
Many times, the bitten pets develop a red rash on their belly and groin regions where there is little or no fur. This rash is characterized by red bumps, pustules and pimple-like boils. The pet may try to bite or chew on these areas, especially on its own tail, going round and round in circles to achieve this objective. Some pet owners actually think this is funny; they believe their little pet is indulging in playtime or antics. Little do they realize the horrors that follow as such self inflicted chewing or biting could lead to major skin infections which might require antibiotics or steroids for healing.
Health risks posed by fleas to cats
You might think that fleas are natural occurrences and that your cat can easily cohabit with these parasites. However, it is important to remember that fleas do not just live on your cat; they also infest your cats’ bedding, your carpets, furniture and all other household items. Moreover, fleas multiply rapidly by laying hundreds of thousands of eggs. As stated before, fleas can lead to flea allergy dermatitis in your cats and kittens. They can also cause anemia that is severe enough to weaken or kill your cat. If your cat is already suffering from other health conditions, it could lead to severe health complications requiring hospitalization.
Tapeworms are other serious risks resulting from major flea infestations. Certain kinds of tapeworms actually come from fleas that have bitten rodents, possums or other wild animals. If such infected fleas bite your cats, they have a risk of acquiring these dangerous parasites. Another shocking truth about fleas which many cat owners are completely unaware of. The cats then pass off all their nutrition to the fleas and the tapeworms leading to weakness, malnutrition and other dangerous health hazards.
Health risks posed by fleas to dogs
Like in cats, fleas pose many health risks to dogs. In some cases, fleas have actually killed small puppies or weaker dogs that were suffering from other health issues. Tapeworm infestation is another risk posed by fleas to dogs. Many dogs also suffer from pruritis, an intense itching caused by flea bites. Pruritis leads to formation of scabs as well as major hair loss in animals. The intense scratching accompanying this condition also gives rise to open sores or secondary bacterial infections. These require expensive steroids, antihistamines and antibiotics for treatment. Such medicines have many side effects that can lower your dog’s immunity inviting a host of other diseases and ailments. It is vital that every dog owner is aware of this.
Now that you know – What can you do about it?
In most cases of flea infestations, the control methods used by dog and cat owners are ineffective and inadequate. Many pet owners believe that flea collars, shampoos, sprays, ointments and powders are enough to take care of the problem. However, the truth is, it is not that easy. Once you have fleas, you need to treat your entire house apart from treating the pets.
My website has plenty of resources which can educate you about the best flea products for treating your home and your pets. Please use these resources to nip your flea problem in the bud. Failure to treat fleas quickly can cause the problem to spiral rapidly out of control. As stated before, flea bites kill pets, so do not take fleas lightly. Remember: an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.
This important information about the dangers of fleas is something every pet owner must bear in mind and take action on. Please spread the word and make the world a safer place for our pets.