Fleas can actually be very dangerous for humans and their pets alike. Sure, fleas cause itching and skin inflammations in your pet but they can also cause anemia in your pets. If your pet is suffering from a large flea infestation, then the fleas can actually drink too much of your pet’s blood leading to anemia. It can often be difficult to determine if your pet is suffering from a flea infestation because only animals with allergic reactions to fleas will itch. If your pet is not allergic a flea infestation can easily go unnoticed. For this reason, it is important that you regularly inspect your pet for fleas. Fleas will cause the appearance of small black spots, almost like pepper, throughout your pet’s coat. These spots are actually your pet’s blood that has been sucked out to feed larval fleas.
Outdoor animals, especially young kittens and puppies, are at high risk for flea anemia caused by flea infestations. In addition, elderly pets are also highly susceptible.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Anemia is actually a condition that constitutes a deficiency of red blood cells in the serum and can actually be fatal. Common symptoms of flea anemia include weakness, lethargy, and pale gums. If you suspect that your pet is suffering from a flea infestation or even flea anemia, it is important to visit your veterinarian immediately. Anemia is a very serious condition.
A good veterinarian should be able to easily diagnose flea anemia. Pale gums (often light pink or even white in colour) are one of the main signs. Also, a flea comb will help to identify flea dirt. If you have a cat that has been eating small pebbles or cat litter then there is a good chance they are anemic. A blood test called a hematocrit can be done by your vet, in office, to determine the severity of the anemia.
Prevention is the most effective treatment for flea anemia. Checking your pet often for fleas before they become a problem is a good start. Also, you’ll want to be sure that you know the colour of your pets gums so you can quickly recognize any abnormalities. Regularly combing your pet with a flea comb is also important. Finding a safe and effective flea control product should be your first step. If you can prevent fleas from infesting your dog or cat then you’ll circumvent the problem of flea anemia all together. Flea collars are common but not very effective. Instead look for a once a month topical mediation for your pet. There are also some very good oral treatments that are easily administered to your pet and will help protect him or her from flea infestation. Be careful of toxic flea treatments that may actually make your pet ill. If you’re unsure as to the best course of action, speak to your vet.
For pets that have already developed flea anemia treatment is focused on restoring normal red blood cell levels. This often means that blood transfusions are the only course of action. Alternatively, transfusing blood substitutes is another common treatment.