Parasite Infection Risk Increases for Outdoor Cats

Cats allowed to roam outdoors face a variety of health risks, from getting hit by cars and attacked by other animals to an increased risk for infection by internal and external parasites.

A recent study of parasite infection rates for outdoor cats vs. indoor cats around the world has led to some interesting findings.

Cats allowed to roam outdoors are 2.77 times more likely to become infected with parasites than indoor only cats.  The surprise finding in this study relates to what parts of the globe parasite infection risks are highest.

You might think that cats in warmer climates have an increased risk of parasite infection because there tends to be a greater concentration of parasites in these warmer places.

In reality, the opposite was found to be true:  infection rates decrease with higher parasite diversity, and cats in northern climates are a greater risk for infection.  Risk of infection goes up a surprising 4% with each degree of increase in latitude.

Why is this?  The researchers note that rodents (a common feline prey animal) and other species of wildlife display similar increased infection rates.

Experts recommend that cat owners restrict access to the outdoors for their pets, both to preserve their cats’ overall health and well-being, and also to reduce the risk of parasite transmission to humans.

 

Side Effects of Flea and Tick Spot Treatments

The warm spring weather means that flea and tick season is coming!  Topical spot products are the preferred treatment for many dog and cat owners.  When used correctly, they can be very safe and effective.

But it is possible that your individual pet may experience an adverse skin reaction to the treatment.

Here’s an overview of the most common reactions, courtesy of the Veterinary Information Network:

Epidermal paresthesia:  This is a fancy term for an itching, prickling, or burning sensation on the skin.  This reaction is most common with spot treatments that contain pyrethroids.  The itching can start minutes after treatment and last as long as 24 hours.

The skin looks normal with paresthesia, but you will notice behavior changes in your pets if they feel uncomfortable.

Contact dermatitis:  This skin condition occurs when your pet develops an inflammatory reaction to the spot product.  Your pet’s skin will look red and irritated at the application site.  In severe cases, the skin may blister.  The reaction time is more delayed than with paresthesia.

Wash off the product and seek veterinary care if the skin does not improve after the product is removed.

What should you do if your dog or cat has a reaction to a spot treatment?  Veterinary experts recommend that you discontinue use of the product.  You can try another treatment that uses different active ingredients and monitor your pet for signs of a reaction.

Important reminder:  Certain canine flea and tick spot treatments can be very toxic to cats, especially those containing permethrin.  Permethrin can cause life-threatening neurological damage in cats.  Never use canine treatments on cats.

If your pet experiences an adverse reaction to a spot treatment, you can report it to the manufacturer as well as to the Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency if you live in the U.S.

 

 

How to Keep Your Yard Safe for Pets

Here are a few springtime safety tips for pet owners who enjoy spending time with their fur kids in the garden!

Most dog and cat owners have a good idea about what plants are safe for their pets, and which ones can be toxic.  If you are unsure about what to plant, be sure to check out the ASPCA’s toxic plant list before heading to the garden center.

Pesticides in the garden can also be hazardous to our pets.  Make sure the products you use are pet-safe.  Health and safety experts recommend learning about the integrated pest management approach, which minimizes the use of toxic pesticides.

Besides plants and pesticides, there are other less obvious pet safety risks in the garden that even the most responsible pet owners may not think about.  Here’s a brief overview:

Standing water

Ponds, birdbaths, and other still water sources can harbor algae and other substances that may harm a dog or cat that drinks from them.  Provide a bowl of fresh drinking water for your animals when they are outside.

Fencing

Is your backyard fencing tall enough and strong enough to keep pets in and other critters like coyotes out?  Be sure to check your fencing for any gaps, holes, or wood rot.  It’s also a good idea to check the locks and latches on all gates.

Compost

Keep curious pets (and other animal visitors) out of your compost bins.  Compost, especially moldy compost, can be harmful if ingested.  Keep bins securely lidded or in an area that’s inaccessible to pets.

Mulch

Certain kinds of mulch can be toxic if eaten by pets.  Mulch made from cocoa shells is especially toxic to dogs.  Safe types of mulch include pine and cedar.  However, all mulch pieces can become a choking hazard if swallowed, so supervision is always a good idea.

Interested in learning more?  Click HERE for more pet garden safety tips.