If you’re like me, you love your pet and want the very best for them. Cats and dogs are the most commonly beloved pets in many households. Unfortunately, they can suffer from a variety of illnesses. From common colds to more serious conditions, cats and dogs can be affected by a wide range of health problems. It is important for pet owners to know how to treat common pet illnesses. It’s also important to know the warning signs that mean they should get their pet’s necessary medical care as soon as possible.
Regular veterinary care is essential for the health of cats and dogs. Our dog has an annual check-up this week, actually. It is important for pet owners to take their pets for regular check-ups and to be aware of any changes to their pet’s behavior or health. Regular veterinary care can help catch any illnesses that may be developing early, which can make treatment easier and more successful. It is also important to get veterinary advice for any health concerns that may arise so that the pet can get the necessary treatment and care.
How to Prevent and Treat Common Pet Illnesses
As always, it is best to ask your veterinarian for any changes in your pet’s health, but there are some common pet illnesses that can be treated at home.
Fleas & Ticks
If your cat or dog spends any amount of time outdoors, it is absolutely vital to protect your pet against fleas and ticks. Fleas and ticks can make your pet extremely uncomfortable and if left untreated make your pet seriously ill. You can use topical drops to prevent both fleas and ticks, but make sure you use the correct one. You cannot use dog flea and tick formulas on cats!
If your pet carries fleas into the house, the fleas can even get into your carpets, furniture, and bedding. Blech.
Once you discover fleas on your pet, you should take immediate action to eliminate them and prevent them from spreading to other pets and people in your home because fleas can transmit a variety of diseases, including:
- Heartworm: This is a serious disease that can cause heart failure in dogs and cats. Heartworm disease is spread by the bite of an infected flea.
- Babesiosis: This disease causes anemia and an elevation of the liver enzymes in dogs and cats. It is caused by bacteria that are carried by fleas.
- Ehrlichiosis: This disease causes fever, loss of appetite, weakness, vomiting, and diarrhea in dogs and cats. It is spread by the bite of an infected flea.
- Lyme disease: This disease causes fever and loss of appetite in dogs and cats. It is spread by ticks and fleas that carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.
To get rid of fleas, you can give your cat or dog a bath in dish soap. The dish soap helps to drown the fleas. Then give your dog or cat the appropriate dose of Capstar. Capstar starts killing fleas within 30 minutes and kills 90% of adult fleas within 4-6 hours. Capstar does not target flea eggs or larvae, so it is important to monitor your pet for additional flea outbreaks. I didn’t know anything about Capstar until we found an abandoned kitten a few years ago that was flea infested. We gave her a Dawn bath and the rescue we called recommended Capstar. It worked wonders, and she was able to go to the rescue because of it.
To prevent fleas from spreading to other pets and people in your home, you should treat your house with a flea treatment that is safe for both you and your pets. Be sure to vacuum all upholstery and carpets, and wash all bedding (including pet bedding) in hot water. You should also take precautions to keep your pet away from other pets that might have fleas. Your veterinarian can help you with this if necessary.
Tick-borne illnesses in dogs include Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Babesiosis, Bartonellosis, and Hepatozoonosis. Tick-borne illnesses in cats include cytauxzoonosis, tularemia, Lyme Disease, and anaplasmosis. Tick Paralysis is a common disease seen in cats.
If you find a tick on your pet, you should immediately remove it. Submerging a tick in original Listerine or rubbing alcohol will kill it instantly. You can also use a tick removing tool to get them off safely.
Worms are another common problem for dogs and cats. Puppies and kittens are usually born with parasites passed on from mom (even if mom is dewormed) before they are born. Because of this, it is recommended that your puppies and kittens be dewormed every 2 weeks until they reach 3 months of age.
Worms can cause a variety of conditions in pets, including diarrhea, which can cause dehydration; constipation; intestinal blockage, which can be fatal if not treated promptly.
Keeping an eye on your pet’s stool habits can help you know when to use a dewormer. It’s also important to submit fecal samples to the vet at least yearly, and anytime you suspect a problem, to check for parasites like worms.
Ringworm is caused by a fungus that lives in the skin of animals. Because Ringworm is a skin ailment, and not an intestinal infection, it is treated differently than other worms. It can cause a variety of issues in pets and humans, including itching, skin irritation, and secondary infections. In animals, using a non-toxic topical spray to treat ringworm is a must. Pets will often lick the area that is bothersome, so you want to be sure you use a product that won’t be harmful if ingested.
Treat ringworm immediately in pets, and treat it aggressively because it is contagious to other pets and humans. In pets, ringworm remains contagious for about three weeks from the start of treatment. In humans, it remains contagious for about 48 hours after treatment starts. When left untreated, ringworm remains contagious much longer and the fungal spores can actually live for up to twenty months.
Lice are another common issue for dogs and cats. They are parasitic insects that are transmitted via the feces of lice or through direct contact with an infected animal or human.
Lice can cause a variety of issues in dogs and cats, including itching, which is the most common symptom. The itching is caused by skin irritation which can then lead to scabies or ringworm. Lice can also bite your pet and cause an infection called an infection called demodex mange. An apple cider vinegar bath can help get rid of the mange mites. Mix ½ cup of apple cider vinegar with ½ cup of Borax and warm water. The Borax should be completely dissolved before using it on your pet, and pets should be rinsed thoroughly after use. Be sure your pet doesn’t lick or drink the mixture, as Borax can be harmful if ingested.
You can also use a commercial skin cleanser to help with itching. If you suspect mange, it really is best to take your pet to the vet for their recommendations.
There are a number of common illnesses that can affect your dog or cat. As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It’s best, of course, to do what you can to avoid these illnesses when possible. With the help of a veterinarian, you can prevent your pet from becoming sick, and if necessary, treat common pet illnesses and keep them from spreading to other pets or people in your home.