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Norwich Bulletin - 8/16/2009

More Pesky Pests

There are so many more scary bugs out in the summer that are just waiting to attack our dogs and cats. This is just one of the reasons that cats should be kept indoors, but there are certain cats that just wonít be happy inside and for them, and for the strays that you may be caring for, here are some things to watch for.

To start with, most bugs will not bite if left alone. Thatís great for the dogs, but how many cats do you know that are not tempted by a bug who crawls or flies by them? There are also those bugs that do bite with intent to fee off of the blood of our pets.

I have already covered fleas, ticks and ringworm, as well as some of the parasites that hunger after our canines and felines. While most insect bites are generally mild in the symptoms they might cause, others are more serious, causing severe reactions and in some cases, even death.

Mange mites are relatively uncommon but when they do strike they are very contagious and can even be transferred to humans. Cheyletiella mites cause severe itching and are often called walking dandruff because if you look closely you can see those little white flakes moving in your petís fur. Ear mites cause severe irritation and misery and if not treated they can cause a loss in hearing and can even be the cause of head tilts.

Both of these are pretty easy to figure out. With ear mites the animal is always scratching at its ears and if you go to clean the ear and bring out black gook that resembles coffee grinds, you can be pretty sure that your pet is suffering from ear mites. Treament for your petís ears are easy and quick Ė your vet will tell you which he/she prefers you to use.

Mosquito bites are not considered to be of great concern, but they are still bothersome and you should take efforts to rid yourself of these pesky flying insects, not only for your petís sake, but for your own. We put up a bat house and we are lucky enough to have a Garden Spider so our mosquito problems around our house are not at all particularly bothersome to us or our pets.

Wasps, hornets and bees can be more dangerous, and, just like with people, some pets will have severe reactions. Stings can cause instant severe swelling, redness around the eyes and lips, respiratory distress, vomiting and staggering. Animals that are stung by these flying insects should be seen by a veterinarian. If the stinger stays in the animal, do not pull it out as you could inadvertently push more of the poisonous venom from the stinger into the catís system.

Spider bites are usually uneventful and cause minimal itching, swelling or pain. Of course, that depends on the type of spider that has bitten your pet. For instance, the black widowís venom can cause intense pain at the site of the bite and cramping of large muscles follows shortly thereafter.

Your pet may even become paralyzed. There may be seizures, drooling, restlessness and obvious pain. The female black widow spider carries enough venom to severely injure or kill a small animal like a cat of Chihauahu. Death is very common in these small animals so it is imperative to get to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

The Brown Recluse is not considered an aggressive spider, but will bite if threatened. While the bite itself initially causes no pain, after a period of time, the skin around the bite area becomes red and the animal becomes nauseous and feverish. The way the bite works is that the poison continues to penetrate deeper into the animal and affects underlying muscle.

What was once a small reddish bump turns into a large, gaping, open sore. Without treatment, the wound can lead to bacteria that can lead to severe complications. Trust me on this one as I was bitten by a brown recluse when I decided to clean out my attic and by the time the bite had turned into a wound, I was extremely ill and feverish. It took weeks to recover.

Did you know that ants bite too? Depending on the type of ant and number of bites received, cats and little dogs can have mild to severe reactions ranging from bumps, swelling, nausea, itching and pain at the site of the bite. Ants are always on the lookout for a good food supply. They certainly can make a petís food completely inedible in a matter of moments as they swarm through the dish. So feed your pets inside Ė better yet, keep them inside!

Indoor cats and dogs who are not kept outside 24/7 are less likely to encounter the hazards associated with insect bites and stings, although, many of these insects also invade our homes. All animals are likely to suffer from some type of bite or sting during the course of their lifetime, so be cognizant of what bugs tend to be around your home and yard. Exterminating can be dangerous as can using over the counter medications to try and control fleas, ticks, etc.; so please ask your veterinarian to recommend products that are known to be animal safe.

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