Most pet owners are all too familiar with fleas, the tiny, wingless, blood-sucking insects that invade the coats of cats and dogs, causing their inadvertent hosts terrible itching. Fleas, however, can do more than make your pet uncomfortable. A severe flea infestation can open the floodgates for other health problems, including anemia, which is a drop in hemoglobin, the oxygen-transporting red blood cells. Flea anemia is more likely to develop in kittens than grown cats.
If you suspect your cat is suffering from flea-induced anemia, take her to a veterinarian promptly.
Symptoms of Flea Anemia
The symptoms of anemia in cats, whether caused by fleas o otherwise, include:
- Pale gums
- Lethargy and sleepiness
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Fast heart rate and respiration
Treating Flea Anemia
For your pet to improve from flea anemia, it is crucial to rid the cat of the parasites. Your veterinarian can recommend an oral or topical that will kill the fleas. If anemia is suspected, the veterinarian will order blood tests to assess hemoglobin levels. If the fleas have caused severe anemia, your cat may need a blood transfusion to recover.
Preventing Flea Anemia
Keeping your cat free of fleas is the best way to ensure she won't develop flea-induced anemia. Many of the products used to kill mature fleas can be administered regularly to destroy eggs, thereby preventing future infestations. Enlist the advice of your veterinarian to determine which product is best for your cat.
Flea products that are intended for dogs may be toxic to cats and vice versa; be sure the product you use on your cat is made specifically for felines.