Posts Tagged ‘cat parasites’

According to a recent interview with leading parasitologists, published by Veterinary Practice News, we can expect to see more ticks this year for the following reasons:

  • Warmer winters
  • Suburbanization, which brings together people, wildlife and ticks
  • An increase in white-tailed deer
  • Migratory birds that carry ticks to new areas
  • A movement toward the preservation of open space and the replanting of trees
  • The use of fewer insecticides

This news is cause for concern for everyone. Those of us who have dogs and cats that venture outdoors must not ignore the risk to our pets. That means protecting our pets, as well as ourselves.

Ticks are carriers for the following six diseases:

  • Lyme Disease
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Anaplasmosis
  • Babesiosis
  • Tularemia
Baked bean? Nope - it's an engorged, dead tick, thoughtfully preserved for the enlightenment of future generations of pet owners. Photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic.

Baked bean? Nope – it’s an engorged, dead tick, thoughtfully preserved for the enlightenment of future generations of pet owners. Photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic.

Get links to articles on each disease here and learn how to protect yourself and your family.

We can help protect your pet with Lyme Disease vaccinations and Preventic collars, so let us know if you and your pet will be doing any of the following activities:

  • hiking, especially in wooded or grassy areas, such as state and public parks
  • camping
  • travelling
  • hunting

Of course, ticks can be found right in your own backyard, so keep an eye out for these pests – and if you see one on your dog or cat, tell us!

In fact, we’ve begun hearing from more clients who are finding ticks on their cats — and those cats are not going hiking with their owners. That means ticks are very much a backyard problem in this area.

Found a tick on your pet?
Watch this video from About.com that explains the Do’s and Don’t’s of tick removal.

Need a tick removal device?
I searched Amazon.com and came up with this list of tick removal devices, including the crow-bar type shown in the video.

Other resource on the pending tick explosion:
Companion Animal Parasite Council

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     If you’ve been following along with our Under the ‘Scope series, you know I’ve blogged about Tapeworms, Hookworms, and Roundworms.  (If you haven’t read those posts, click on the links and read them now.) 
     I mentioned in the last post that I’ve been hoping to show you photos of Coccidiae and Whipworms, as well.  As it turns out, we’ve had a recent spate of dogs, both young and old, battling Coccidiae.  This is what we’ve seen under the microscope:

This is what we see at "medium" magnification. Photo by Jennifer Miele.

     Not too helpful, is it?  Coccidiae (that’s the plural of “coccidia”) are among the tiniest parasites we search for in your pet’s fecal sample.  Now look at this photo with some of the coccidia oocysts (spores) labeled for identification:

Click to enlarge and read the labels. Photo by Jennifer Miele.

     Now look at the oocysts under higher magnification:

Two highly magnified coccidia spores. Photo by Jennifer Miele.

     Now look at the coccidia as seen under an electron microscope:

     If you’re thinking that looks an awful lot like a jellyfish at the Virginia Aquarium, you’re right.  I have no idea how that snuck in there.  My apologies to everyone who reads this blog.  Anyway, now you know where I spent my Sunday. 

     Okay, let’s try this again.  Coccidia spore under super-intense hyper-fraznik electron microscope:

EEEEEEEEK! Photo by Jennifer Miele

     All right, all right, I’m messing with you.  Little tiny coccidia spores do not grow up to become sharks.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is, if your cat or dog is infected with these protozoan parasites, it may suffer chronic or intermittent diarrhea.  Left untreated, the infection may progress to the point that your pet has bloody stools, vomiting, and loss of appetite.  In rare cases, death may occur.

     Treatment for coccidiosis (the disease cause by the coccidia infection) is effective and uncomplicated, provided the illness has not progressed to a serious level.

     Coccidia species tend to stick to dogs and cats as their hosts.  A notable exception is Toxoplasma gondii, which causes toxoplasmosis in humans.  Many women are familiar with this disease, as it is to be avoided at all costs during pregnancy. 
     Toxoplasmosis can be contracted by handling cat fecal matter or contaminated litter.  For this reason, a pregnant woman should ask someone else to clean the cat’s litterbox, or she should wear thick gloves and wash well after the task is completed.

     There is no preventative product on the market for coccidiosis.  Your pet should remain on its heartworm/intestinal worm preventative year-round, even though it will not protect against protozoan parasites. 
     Be vigilant in noticing whether your pet’s bathroom habits have changed.  If you suspect a parasite infection, notify our clinic so that we may examine a specimen under the microscope.  Who knows?  Your pet’s parasites could be the next ones featured on Under the ‘Scope!  ~~  Jen

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