Valentine’s Day brings out the romantic side in many people or just simply reminds us that the ones we love are the most important part of our life. And for many of us, that undoubtedly includes our furry friends.
It did, however, also remind me that the ‘Kissing Bug season’ will soon be upon us. It begins mid-spring and continues on until the end of the summer. There is sometimes a second peak season, which occurs during mid-September. This is also the time in which they often invade homes.
This is no Love Bug!
The Kissing bug is one deadly bloodsucker you need to be especially aware of – it doesn’t kiss it bites!
It gets its name because it often bites mucous membranes, such as the lips. They’re also called cone-nosed bugs, bloodsuckers, cinches, and triatomine bugs.
Like mosquitoes and ticks, they need blood to live, from either animals or humans. HOWEVER, Kissing Bugs sometimes have a parasite (Trypanosoma cruzi) in their feces that can cause Chagas Disease, which can lead to serious heart problems or disease in the intestines for your beloved pet.
Your pooch can come into contact with this in the following ways:
1. The kissing bug bites your dog then leaves infected feces in the wound
2. Your dog ingests a kissing bug, or the faces from a kissing bug
3. The parasite is passed on from the dog’s mother
4. Your dog eats an infected prey animal (e.g. rodent, opossum)
Sadly, there is no known cure for Chagas disease in dogs, nor is there any vaccine available for its prevention. Although several drugs have resulted in somewhat limited improvement, there is still a lot to learn about this disease and the prognosis is not good for any dog.
Veterinarians have discovered that infected dogs, less than six months of age, may experience clinical signs such as pale gums, anorexia, diarrhea, and sudden death.
In contrast, older dogs infected by Chagas, are often asymptomatic for long periods. However, once symptoms emerge, veterinarians have noticed that older dogs are more at risk of developing heart diseases. In addition, geriatric dogs may also develop problems with their nervous and respiratory systems.
• Never touch kissing bugs with bare hands and thoroughly clean all surfaces they may have come into contact with.
• Clean and disinfect their dog house on a regular basis.
• Check all beds regularly – and not just the dog’s bed! These bugs often seek refuge between mattresses, daybeds, futons, and other tight spaces where potential prey frequent.
• Switch lights off – Kissing Bugs typically fly out for feeding and traveling after dusk and are attracted to the brilliance of porch and window lights.
• Include a daily dose of probiotics with prebiotic in their food, to strengthen their immune system and resilience to viruses/infections.
(N.B. FidoActive Advanced Probiotics for Dogs also includes the added benefit of D.Earth (Diatomaceous Earth), which is a natural parasite and worm remover. It causes a healthy elimination of parasites and worms without chemicals.)
Wishing you and your canine companions the best of health!
Helen Broadley & The FidoActive Team
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