Most people think of fleas as more of a nuisance that causes skin irritation and itching but has no serious consequences. However, fleas can actually do serious damage to the health of your pet, and some conditions have the potential to affect human beings as well. Following are just three ways that flea infestations can seriously harm the health of your pet.
Fleas Can Cause Anemia
Because fleas feed on the blood of an animal, the possibility exists that your pet will lose so much blood that it will suffer from anemia. Although the average healthy adult dog or cat normally won't experience blood loss to this extent, major flea infestations on kittens and puppies have been known to be fatal due to anemia caused by lack of blood. If you suspect that your young animal is suffering from anemia, take it to an animal hospital right away.
Fleas Can Transmit Tapeworm Eggs
Fleas also have the potential to transmit tapeworms to dogs, cats, wildlife, and humans. Fortunately, tapeworms aren't easily transmitted to humans — you have to literally eat a flea that's eaten a tapeworm egg in order for the parasite to gain a foothold in your intestinal tract. It's far easier for your pet to get tapeworms this way — think of a dog or cat quickly biting the area when bitten by a flea, and you'll see how it happens. Tapeworms can cause serious health problems in both dogs and cats, so if your pet has fleas, take it to your local veterinary clinic to be tested and treated for tapeworms.
Fleas Can Transmit Typhus
Fleas can also transmit typhus. The disease is passed on by infected fleas that bite domestic pets or humans and proceed to eliminate in the vicinity of the bite. When you or your pet rubs or scratches the bite, the infected flea feces can enter the bloodstream if the bite or the scratches break the skin.
Another possible consequence of fleas is that your pet may scratch so much that the affected area becomes infected. If the infection isn't treated in time, it's likely that it will enter the bloodstream at some point and possibly become fatal.
Not all flea treatments work the same, and there's no one-size-fits-all answer to winning the war on fleas. What works for one pet may not be the right approach for another. For instance, some flea collars work very well, but they aren't recommended for outdoor cats because they can cause the animal to get caught on brush and other outdoor fixtures. Be sure to ask your veterinarian to recommend the best flea control method for your pet's particular lifestyle. Contact a veterinary clinic to learn more.