Hello! Nigel, here. Many of you humans have found yourself in the precarious circumstances of dog ownership. Notice….that humans “own” dogs but “serve” cats. Just sayin’…. But, I digress. When dogs and cats live together, there is often concern over whether or not the cats can be made ill by any strange canine diseases that these beasts are harboring. I too, share in this concern so I consulted Dr. S about what disgusting dangers lurked in my home due to the presence of “Gracie” (the beagle mix that likes to sleep in my bed).
Interestingly, there are actually very few diseases that cats can catch from their dog housemates. Most diseases are fortunately quite specific to a particular species. There are, of course, a few exceptions.
One of the most obvious of these exceptions is fleas. Fleas are happy to live on both dogs and cats, so even if your cats do not go outside, they can become infested with these horrible little insects from your dog bringing them in to the house. Similarly, ticks can crawl from your dog over to your cat and feed quite happily on them. For this reason, it is very important that you keep all of your cats and dogs on a reliable monthly flea and tick preventative. This must be applied every month to every pet in the house in order for it to work. And please be sure that you use a product on your cats that is safe for cats. Never put a flea preventative product on your cat that is packaged for dogs.
Another nasty culprit is ringworm (dermatophytosis). This disease is a fungus, showing scaly, red and gray crusty patches on the skin. Ringworm typically presents on the face, ear tips, paws and tail. If your dog has ringworm, he can share it with you and your cat (and vice versa). It doesn’t take much to share ringworm — just a scrape or a scratch releases the fungus spores. It’s not unusual for a carrier pet to show no signs; some pets never become infected, despite exposure to the fungus. If you should ever notice any lesions on one of your pets, it is important to have them checked out by your vet ASAP to avoid spreading this contagious, horribly itchy nuisance.
A group of parasites that is commonly shared around the pet community are the intestinal (or internal) parasites. The most common parasites in pets are hookworm, roundworm, tapeworm and whipworm. Tapeworms are not generally spread from your dog to your cat, as your pets will get these nasty little creatures from swallowing fleas. The other three common worms are spread through stool, where the worm’s microscopic eggs find their way into the outside world from your pet’s intestinal tract. Though it’s unpleasant to think of your beloved pet eating poop, sometimes it happens. The most common way your cat or dog will ingest stool is via grooming themselves. However, in the case of dogs, it has been my personal experience that they tend to do this unspeakable activity on purpose. Just gross! Diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss and a poor coat are signs of parasite infection. Some cats do not show any symptoms at all, which is why it is so important to periodically have their stool checked by your vet. To keep your precious kitties safe from these tiny monsters, you can use a prescription preventative that is applied to your cat once per month. So easy…really, why not do it?
Last, but not least, is the dreaded rabies virus. Rabies is a dangerous virus that can infect your cat, dog and you. An infected animal transmits the virus through a bite or scratch, or through contaminated saliva coming in contact with mucus membranes or a fresh, open wound. Bats, raccoons, foxes and skunks are the most common carriers. If your dog is not vaccinated and becomes infected with the virus, she can transmit it to your cat. It takes two weeks to two months for symptoms to become noticeable. The first signs include apprehension, irritability and aggression. The virus progresses making the animal extremely sensitive to sounds, light and touch; difficulty swallowing water, disorientation and staggering may occur, as well as seizures. Sadly, all animals infected with the rabies virus will die. We are so lucky to have truly effective vaccines to protect us from this awful disease. Please make sure that you keep all of your cats and dogs current on their rabies vaccine.
Well, I hope that this time that we have spent together has been helpful to you. As always, if you have any concerns about your feline overlord’s well-being, you can give Dr. S and Dr. J a call at For Cats Only. They live to serve…..me, of course!
This is Nigel, signing off. Meow!