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Pet Health

Parasites

  • Encephalitozoonsis is a parasitic infection that can affect the kidneys, eyes, and nervous systems of rabbits. Many infected rabbits do not develop clinical signs until they are older or if they become stressed or immunocompromised. Common signs that may develop include heavy white plaques/growths inside one or both eyes, head tilt, eye twitching, and tremors or seizures. Treatments are available, though not all rabbits respond.

  • Demodicosis is a parasitic skin condition caused by Demodex mites. These microscopic mites can be found on the skin of all animals but, in some cases, they multiply to excessive levels and cause clinical signs. Signs vary depending on the species of mite involved, though generally involve hair loss, skin inflammation, and crusting. Demodex mites found on cats and dogs do not spread to humans.

  • Ferrets are commonly affected by ear mite infestations. Many ferrets show no symptoms of infestation but you may notice your ferret shaking her head or scratching herself. Treatment for ear mites must be done under the guidance of a veterinarian familiar with ferrets.

  • An allergy occurs when the cat's immune system overreacts or is hypersensitive to foreign substances called allergens. When a flea bites a cat to consume a blood meal, some of its saliva is injected into the skin. In an allergic cat, just one bite can result in intense itching that can last for days. Many flea-allergic cats chew or lick the hair off their legs. Since the flea saliva causes the reaction, the most important treatment for flea allergy is to prevent fleabites by treating the cat and environment for fleas. Corticosteroids can be used to block the allergic reaction and give immediate relief to a cat suffering from the intense itching of FAD.

  • Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is a leading cause of allergic reactions in dogs. It is the antigens or proteins in the flea saliva that cause an intensely itchy response to sensitive dogs. Itching and hair loss in the region from the middle of the back to the tail base and down the rear legs (the flea triangle) is often associated with FAD. Strict flea control is essential in the prevention and treatment of FAD. Occasionally corticosteroids are used to reduce the itching in patients with severe signs of FAD.

  • Fleas are the most common nuisance and parasite affecting cats, and an infestation can lead to serious health problems. Flea control requires a three-pronged approach; they need to be eliminated from 1) your cat, 2) any other cats and dogs that you have, 3) your home and yard. There are many flea control products available and your veterinarian can help you determine which are safest and most effective for your pets.

  • Fleas are the most common nuisance and parasite affecting dogs, and an infestation can lead to serious health problems. Flea control requires a three-pronged approach; they need to be eliminated from 1) your dog, 2) any other cats and dogs that you have, 3) your home and yard. There are many flea control products available and your veterinarian can help you determine which are the safest and most effective for your pets.

  • Flea infestation is a common problem in pet ferrets, especially in ferrets that go outdoors or live in a house with dogs, cats, or other animals who have fleas. Affected ferrets may or may not be itchy depending on the sensitivity of the individual animal to flea bites. Early in the infestation, there may be no signs that your ferret even has fleas. Young ferrets with heavy infestations may even become anemic as the fleas feed over time. Some topical medications used to treat fleas in dogs and cats appear to be safe in ferrets but should only be used under the guidance of a veterinarian familiar with ferrets.

  • Fleas in hedgehogs are less commonly seen in comparison to cats and dogs but a similar treatment protocol under the direction of your veterinarian is required in order to control an infestation. This handout describes the clinical signs of fleas in hedgehogs and what to do (and what not to do) if your hedgehog is affected.

  • Rabbits can become infested with fleas, especially if they go outside or live in a house with other pets that have fleas. Rabbits with fleas may show no signs or may bite, lick, or scratch themselves. Young rabbits with heavy infestations may become anemic. There are no rabbit-specific drugs for managing fleas. Certain topical cat medications appear to be safe but should only be used under the guidance of a veterinarian familiar with rabbits. It is very important to treat the environment, as well as the pet.