A very informative article regarding fleas, worms etc. on animals. Thank you so much to Jac Barnes for writing this piece!
The Dangerous Health Consequences of Flea Infestations for Animals
In Jakarta and all around the world, animals are prone to facing the wrath of parasitic insects. No matter the habitat, parasites like fleas are eager to find and feed on a host. With over 2,000 different species of fleas, the nuisances enjoy feeding on a wide range of hosts, including dogs, rats, birds, cats and even humans. Interestingly, fleas don’t have the assistance of wings like other parasitic insects to help in their search of a host; instead, fleas are capable of leaping up to seven inches, or 17.78 centimeters. While they are extremely small, they pose a great danger to animals because they carry and transmit many diseases. To safeguard animals against these dangerous health consequences, it is important to know the types of illnesses that a flea infestation can cause.
External Issues: Skin Irritation
Fleas are, unfortunately, a fact of life for animals. While there are many options to safeguard pets against fleas, there are less preventative measures in place for animals in the wild. One of the most common issues that can stem from flea infestations in animals is external skin irritation, causing extreme itching and scratching. This is otherwise known as flea bite dermatitis, which is an allergic reaction to flea biting that leads to intense irritation in animals. This constant itching can then lead to broken skin, wounds, and scabs, which can become infected if not treated. The most most frequent places that this occurs is on an animal’s back or at the base of its tail. While external skin irritation is a seemingly minor issue, if it gets bad enough, animals will need proper medications for both the infection and allergy in order to be returned to full health.
Ingested Parasites: Tapeworm
Another more serious illness that animals can contract by coming into contact with fleas is tapeworm. A tapeworm is a parasite that can be passed onto an animal after the animal accidentally ingests fleas. Oftentimes, tapeworms live inside of fleas. Once an animal ingests the flea, the tapeworm will leave the flea and grow inside of the animal. Though some tapeworms are as small as a ½ inch, or 12.7 millimeters, they can grow to be as large as 12 inches, or .3 meters. Having a tapeworm that extends to such a large size can be quite harmful and even deadly for an animal if it isn’t treated. This can lead to a number of medical concerns, including extreme weight loss.
Flea Biting Leads to Anemia
A third illness that can be caused by a flea infestation is anemia. This often happens to young or small animals that have a serious flea infestation. What can happen is that the fleas will feed on these animals so intensely that their overall red blood cell count will decrease, becoming anemic. Of the three illnesses mentioned, anemia is the most worrisome and can prove to be a true medical emergency if it’s left untreated.
Knowing the various health consequences that a flea infestation can cause, it’s important for wildlife rescuers, caretakers and advocates to protect animals against fleas and recognize the signs and symptoms of contracting them.