San Jose Pet Parent’s Guide
Brought to you by the veterinarians and staff at Story Road Animal Hospital
Creepy-Crawling, Jumping, Biting, Buzzing, Blood-Sucking and Disease Spreading Parasites that LOVE Your Precious Pets
In this 3-part article we’re talking about the disease spreading bugs we see most often here in San Jose; mosquitoes, fleas and ticks. More than just a nuisance when they buzz, bite and sting, these bugs also carry diseases which can seriously harm your pets. And some can even infect you or your children.
Part Two of a Three-Part Series
With our mild climate here in the San Jose area, fleas can be found nearly year-round in certain places. As Dr. Sarah talked about in her blog article, fleas are often the culprit behind many skin problems we see here at our animal hospital.
When it comes to F.A.D. (Flea Allergy Dermatitis) all it takes is one bite from one flea to send pets into an itching, scratching, chewing frenzy because pets are reacting to an antigen in the flea’s saliva. However, flea allergy dermatitis and skin infections aren’t the only threats posed by fleas.
Tapeworm can infect your cats, your dogs, and even people; all it takes is accidentally swallowing one infected flea.
Q: What is a tapeworm?
A: A tapeworm is a parasitic worm that is very flat (like a tape measure). The tapeworm is also segmented. When the tapeworm is living inside the intestinal track, these segments break-off the main worm and hitch a ride on your pet’s stool (feces, poo, la mierda) on its way out when your pet defecates.
Q: How does one tiny flea carry this huge tapeworm?
A: While the flea can’t actually carry an adult tapeworm, the flea is just the intermediate host which means the microscopic larvae live in the flea / depend on the flea before they make their final journey into a preferred host (when your pet swallows the tapeworm infected flea while grooming / licking).
Q: How will I know if my pet has tapeworm?
A: The best way is to watch your pet defecate and look for small white tapeworm segments (about the size of a grain of white rice). Sometimes the segments wiggle around on the fresh feces. The next best way is to watch for dried segments which look more like sesame seeds. You may see these sesame-seed-like segments stuck to the fur around your pet’s anal area, in your dog’s bedding, or in your cat’s favorite spot for napping or sunbathing.
Contrary to popular belief, scooting is not a reliable indicator of tapeworms, roundworms, or any other kind of worms. Many dogs scoot to relieve pain/pressure/irritaion in their anal glands. We’ll talk about scooting in another blog article because pet parents often ask us why their dogs scoot around on grass or carpet.
Q: Is tapeworm treatable?
A: Yes. Your veterinarian will prescribe the appropriate prescription medication. However, if you’ve not rid your home, bedding, furniture, carpeting, and ALL of your pets (including the indoor only cats) of fleas, your pets will likely swallow another tapeworm infected flea, and the cycle continues. Again, the key is to break the flea life cycle.
Q: Is tapeworm infection preventable?
A: For the most part, yes it is preventable by controlling the fleas.
Q: Can people get tapeworm?
A: Although it is possible, and there are plenty of documented cases of tapeworm in humans, it is rather unlikely you or your children will get tapeworm from fleas found on your dogs and cats here in San Jose.
We see flea anemia most often in very small animals (puppies, kittens, etc) that are infested with fleas to the point the fleas are sucking so much blood that the small pet’s body cannot recover fast enough. This can be life-threatening to a small animal.
If you have or find kittens, puppies, or small pets infested with fleas, contact a veterinarian to discuss options because some flea medication is too strong for puppies, kittens and small pets – especially if the animal’s health is already compromised by the flea infestation. Some prescription and many over the counter (store bought) flea treatments can cause serious harm – even death. It’s always best to consult with a veterinarian before using any medication on an animal – especially the young, elderly, small or compromised animals.
Please feel free to reach-out to us at Story Road Animal Hospital. We all live right here in San Jose and we all have pets, too. Although only a licensed veterinarian can diagnose and prescribe, our knowledgeable staff would be happy to discuss mosquito, flea and tick control ideas with you. And we’d love to hear what is working for you.