A small parasite is spreading the nasty Chagas Disease, and it affects both your family and your pets, keep reading to discover how to protect yourself!
The little villain is known as “the kissing bug” or the “the assassin bug” is not something you want dwelling in your home. What’s more, you should be aware of the dangers it can cause to your pets so you can shield them before harm comes their way.
The fact is, the assassin bug spreads Chagas Disease, which is common in South America and Central America. Also, because of global warming, this disease has spread into areas such as Texas, Oklahoma, Virginia, South Carolina and Louisiana.
Watch the video of a dog from North Texas, Kisha, who became infected with Chagas Disease and yet continues to live a full life with the short time she has left:
300,000 Americans get infected by Chagas Disease. Moreover, most of the time people contract the disease overseas. However, our pets are more vulnerable to the bug bites, and 8.8% of animals infected by Chagas Disease catch it in the U.S. and 17-21% in Mexico.
Beyond that, the most common way that a dog can get Chagas Disease is by having contact with the feces of an infected bug. When the infected bug bites a pet, some small amount of fecal discharge goes inside the pet’s body through the bite. Pets can also get Chagas Disease by eating an infected bug, or the disease can pass from a mother to her puppies.
In any case, once the infected parasite is inside the dog’s body, it multiplies and ruptures the infected cells. That is why we often associate Chagas Disease with heart disease in dogs. Often the condition is not discovered until later, and the symptoms escalate rapidly.
Symptoms Of The Disease in Dogs
In general, Chagas Disease has two phases: acute and chronic.
The first phase, acute, can last a few weeks or even months. After that, the infected dog enters the chronic phase. If the dog remains untreated, the illness will persist in the dog’s body for its entire lifetime.
Main Symptoms of The Acute Phase:
- Enlarged liver
- Disease of the lymph nodes
- Enlarged spleen
- Abnormal heart rhythm
Main Symptoms of The Chronic Phase:
- Enlarged heart
- Congestive heart failure
- Abnormal heart rhythm
However, one thing is for sure if you notice some of these symptoms and suspect that your pet is infected with Chagas Disease, make an appointment with a veterinarian as soon as possible. The sooner you get your dog treated, the better.
In areas where Chagas diseases are more common such as Central and South America, it is important to spray insecticide inside the house to decrease the spread of Chagas Disease. Set a reminder to regularly check your pet for bug bites, especially if your dog plays in long grass or less populated areas.
Make no mistake; it does not matter if you live in the South or not. You still need to check your pet regularly for bug bites as it causes distress and pain for your dog and spreads disease when left untreated.
Other Common Bug Bites Your Dog Might Encounter
Mites and Mange
Mites are tiny eight-legged creatures that feed on organic matter, such as animal dander. Mange is the infestation of your dog’s skin by these mites. An infestation usually results in hair loss and extreme itching.
Two types of mange mites can affect your dog: sarcoptic mange which can transmit from dog to owner, and demodectic mange which seldom spreads to other dogs and humans.
Your dog could experience intense itchiness in both of these cases, which can cause painful lesions caused by self-inflicted scratching. Anti-parasitic wash treats mite infestations, and you can get them from vet clinics.
With the so many insect breeds on this planet, you and your pets are bound to encounter many throughout your lifetime. Regardless of your location, the best course of action to keep your family safe is preparation. If you are diligent in checking your pets for bites, study the dangers in your area, and seek help from the vet if you notice anything abnormal, you will be able to keep your pet pest-free.
Fleas feed on the blood of their hosts. With over 2,200 species of this tiny insect, the chances of your dog encountering one are high. Fleas will make their home on the skin of your pet and feast on the blood. This causes hair loss, scabs, itching, and irritated skin. Not only will they drive your dog crazy with scratching, but they will also make a home in your carpet, on your bed, and in between the cracks of your hardwood floors.
Now, to remove the fleas from your dog and house, you will need to talk to your vet about medication that you can administer, and set up a plan to rid your home of the fleas. You can administer preventative medication in the spring and summer months, or year-round in warmer climates when fleas are more likely to spread.
Ticks also feed on the blood of their host. By contrast, ticks position themselves and wait for a host, and they use the animals breath, body odor, heat source, moisture, and vibrations to base their selection. Ticks cannot fly or jump, and will often wait in the long grass for their victim. After finding a host, a tick will attach itself to the skin and slowly suck the blood for several days. It then drops off and prepares for the next stage of its life. In this way, a tick could spread several diseases to many animals.
Vet clinics sell prescription tick medication. Moreover, you should administer the treatment throughout the spring and summer months, or year-round in warmer climates.