If you’re like me you have had both a dog and a cat at some point in your life. In fact, around 17% of Americans own both dogs and cats together in the same house, so if you thought Fido and Fifi not getting along was the biggest of your worries, think again! Dogs and cats can pass parasites to each other, potentially leading to pain and discomfort for all your four-pawed family members.
Prevention is key when you have more than one pet, but so is being aware of potential infections and illnesses that your pets can easily pick up and pass on.
Fleeing From Fleas
When dogs and cats live together, fleas can jump from one pet to another, starting up a colony in their new host. The typical dog flea prefers to feed on dog blood alone but cat fleas are less picky and will happily feed on Fido as well.
Sometimes, fleas are passed from mice to pets, and then from one pet to another. It is a myth that pets have to be in very close to a carrier to become infested. In fact, fleas can survive without a host for long periods of time, especially in hot, humid weather conditions. They can be present in a variety of public areas, including dog parks, nearby yards, and kennels. Moreover, once they infest a pet, they can be very difficult to eliminate from your home, because they are tiny and can nest in hidden corners. The good news is that it is easy to prevent flea infestations with a topical solution or collar. When choosing your treatment, do your research and make sure the solution protects your pet against any pests that may be prevalent in your local area.
Mighty Ear Mites
Ear mites are tiny parasites that live in a dog or cat’s ear, feeding on the oils and waxes in this humid part of your dog’s body. They are highly contagious between dogs and cats and worst of all, they are extremely itchy. If you notice your kitty or pooch itching, shaking his head or exuding a strong odor from his ear, ear mites could be the problem. See your vet quickly if you suspect this problem. As mites continue to reproduce, they can travel to other parts of the body and cause significant distress. Because itching is so intense, your pets will often scratch so hard they will cause wounds, which may become infected. Your vet will usually prescribe medication to eliminate the mites. If infection is present, your vet might also recommend an antibiotic treatment.
These mites are not to be confused with ear mites though as is the case with the latter, they can easily be passed from dogs to cats. They cause extreme itching, which tends to result in frantic scratching. Typical symptoms include hair loss, sores and scabs, and reddened skin. If just one of your pets has sarcoptic mange, they will have to be isolated because mange is so easily passed between your pets. Your vet will most probably prescribe antiparasitic medication, as well as a topical solution to reduce itching and inflammation. Mange can take up to a month to heal.
While these are the most common infestations that can be shared between your dog and your cat, please see your vet at any sign of itching or missing fur since since some conditions are highly contagious. Prevention (from fleas and ticks in particular) with proper treatment and great grooming habits can save your pets from pesky pests means you and your family can concentrate on making sure Fido and Fifi are getting along, without worrying over what they might be sharing.