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Summer dangers – Rodenticides, Fertilisers and Insecticides

Milton Keynes Veterinary Group
During the warmer weather, we will spend more time in our gardens or outside with our pets, it is important to keep an eye on your pets in case of potential toxins that may be around.
  • Mouse and Rat Rodenticides – Mouse or rat poison are sold as pellets, grains or solid cubes and contain ingredients that are toxic to our pets. These toxins can cause problems your pet’s normal clotting of their blood therefore leading to internal bleeding, neurological damage and kidney failure. Symptoms of mouse or rat poisoning do not appear immediately, some may experience signs of lethargy, exercise intolerance, coughing, pale gums or difficulty breathing.
  • Garden Fertiliser – If you have green fingers you are likely to have fertiliser in your shed and applied to your garden, fertilisers contain components such as herbicides and pesticides which are toxic to our pets if ingested in large quantities. Signs of toxicity can include, drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea.
  • Slug pellets – With our gardens blooming, slugs and snails may be also enjoying your plants, therefore slug pellets may be used to keep them away. Slug pellets are toxic as they contain a substance called Metaldehyde. Symptoms of this toxicity can include wobbly gait, muscle twitches and seizures. If you know your pet hasn’t ingested this toxic but has been in contact with it, it is advisable to wash off their paws if they have been on treated ground.

If your pet ingests any of these products, please contact your veterinary practice immediately for further advice.
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Guidance regarding coronavirus and cats

Milton Keynes Veterinary Group
A statement was recently issued by DEFRA who confirmed that a pet cat in England had tested positive for COVID-19 following tests at the Animal Plant Health Agency (APHA) on 22nd July. The cat only showed mild signs of the virus, and has since made a full recovery.

We appreciate that at this time pet owners may be worried about this news, but would like to reassure our clients that there is still no evidence that infected pets can pass COVID-19 directly to humans. There are only a small number of cases where COVID-19 has been diagnosed in pets worldwide, and transmission was from an infected human to the animal.

Our advice remains if you have COVID-19, or are self-isolating with symptoms, to restrict contact with your pets as a precautionary measure and to ensure good hygiene standards such as regular hand washing. The virus can potentially be present on your pets’ fur, in the same way it is on other surfaces, further highlighting the important of maintaining good hygiene at all times.
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Parasites: Tick Facts

Milton Keynes Veterinary Group
Ticks are commonly found in long grass, and attach themselves to your pet as they brush pass. They are eight legged and are composed of two body sections. Their highly developed mouthparts allow them to pierce a pet’s skin and feed on the animal’s blood, sometimes causing reactions at the site of attachment.
  • Ticks also have four life stages – egg, larva, nymph and adult. All the life stages except the egg require to feed on the host.
  • Ticks are arachnids – therefore they are closely related to spiders rather than insects. As a nymph within the life cycle they only have six legs and eight legs when they reach the adult stage.
  • Ticks may appear as small dark specks on your pet’s fur – these can be hard to find when they are small therefore it is important to protect them by using a preventative treatment.
  • Ticks can feed on the blood of different hosts – such as dogs, cats, birds, humans and many more.
  • Ticks have different species – ticks most commonly found on pets within the UK are Ixodes ricinus and Ixodes hexagonus. Dermacentor reticulatus and Rhipicephalous sanguineus can also occasionally be found.
  • Ticks can transmit disease to the host – they acquire disease from an infected host during feeding and can pass them along to other animals. Many diseases are transmitted after many hours of feeding.
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Parasites: Flea Facts

Milton Keynes Veterinary Group
Fleas are small, wingless ectoparasites, just a few millimetres long with hind legs modified for jumping.
  • They have a lifecycle of four stages – The four stages are egg, larva, pupa and adult. The adult flea will lay eggs on a host animal which will fall off into the environment. Eggs will then hatch within the environment into the larvae stage. The larvae stage will continue to feed and develop in the environment into the pupae stage. The pupae stay will then emerge into the adult flea which will seek an animal host for a blood meal and the life cycle repeats. If the life cycle has a warmer environment, the faster the life cycle will be.
  • A flea infestation cannot be eradicated by treating your pet alone – as mentioned most of the life cycle of a flea happens in the environment and therefore not on your pet. If you see an adult flea on your pet, it is likely that that flea has hatched within your home environment e.g. carpet, in between floor boards or even in your car. It is recommended to treat your pet with a suitable ectoparasite treatment, in addition to a insecticide environmental spray. You will also need to wash bedding, clothes on a hot wash and hoover regularly to help eradicate the infestation.
  • Fleas can survive without eating for some time – some research suggests that the pupae stage can survive within colder environments for up to a year. After an adult flea has had a blood meal, it is suggested that they can survive without another blood meal for around 2 weeks.
  • A female flea can lay up to around 50 eggs per day – for this reason if you think you may have a flea infestation you need to act fast to minimise the situation worsening.
  • Indoor-only pets can get fleas too – yes in most scenarios we would expect an indoor-only animal to have a lower exposure to fleas however you need to consider that fleas can be easily transported from one place to another, e.g. by owner’s clothing and footwear. Therefore they can still be brought into a household and start their life cycle within an indoor-only pet’s household so it is just as important to treat our indoor-only pets as well as animals that have access to outside.
  • Fleas can transmit other parasites – fleas are also capable of transmitting other parasites to their hosts such as tapeworm.
  • Flea infestations can cause other complications – in cases of severe infestations, fleas can consume the host’s blood in large quantities causing flea anaemia making the host very ill.
  • Animals can be allergy to fleas – in some animals they may suffer from a condition called flea allergy dermatitis where the host is allergic to the flea’s saliva, typically causing severe skin issues and if left untreated can be extremely uncomfortable.
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Parasites: Endoparasites and your cat

Milton Keynes Veterinary Group
The most common intestinal worms that cats can be susceptible to are roundworms and tapeworms. Your pet may not show signs of infection with mild burdens, however with heavy burdens they may experience weight loss, vomiting, diarrhoea and failure to thrive.

Some worms can also be passed onto humans and therefore it is important to regular treat your cat to prevent these parasites.

Roundworms
There are two common roundworms in cats Toxocara cati and Toxascaris leonina. Eggs are passed in the faeces and are able to remain viable in the environment for several years. Infection to other animals may either be through ingestion of eggs from contaminated ground or ingestion of an intermediate host (e.g. mouse or bird) that are infected. Toxocara cati can also be passed from queen to the kittens within the milk.

Hookworms
Hookworms (Ancylostoma tubaeforme and Uncinaria stenocephala) are more common within other countries throughout the world. These worms can cause damage to the lining of the intestine causing signs of weight loss bleeding or anaemia. Cats can become infected through the ingestion of the worm eggs from the environment or by larvae burrowing through the cat’s skin.

Heartworm
Heartworm otherwise known as Dirofilaria immitis is another parasite which is treated against. Signs of infection of heartworm may include coughing, asthma-like attacks, perioidic vomiting, lack of appetite or weight loss.

Tapeworms
These tapeworms will tend to be referred to a resembling a ‘grain of rice’. Tapeworms are long flat worms consisting of many segments and mature segment holding eggs will be released from the end of the tapeworm and passed in the faeces. These ‘grains of rice’ may be visible around the animal’s anus, in the faeces or on the pet’s bed. Cats can become infected with Taenia taeniaeformis through the ingestion of an infected intermediate host such as a mouse or bird. Dipylidium caninum has an intermediate host of the flea and your cat could become infected through the ingestion on a flea.

Our general advice regarding worming of your cat, is that kittens should be wormed every 2 weeks from 3 weeks of age until 8 weeks, then it is recommended to treat monthly until 6 months of age. After 6 months, worming will depend on certain factors such as outdoor access, hunting, and the presence of children or other vulnerable people with the household. These individuals should be treated more regularly as they will be classed as a higher risk and it is also advised to use a product to treat against fleas to minimise the risk of tapeworm.

If you have any questions regarding your cat’s parasite control, our staff would be more than happy to help.
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