Shedding is one way an animal can adapt to its environment. Changes in the amount of sunlight and the external temperature are the two of the main factors that determine when major shedding will occur.
While hair shedding is a normal process for many breeds of dogs and cats, the amount and frequency of hair that is shed often depends upon their health and breed type. It can also depend on the season —
many pets develop thick coats in the winter that are then shed in the spring. However, pets who are always kept indoors are prone to smaller fluctuations in coat thickness and tend to shed fairly evenly all year rather than seasonally.
When should you be concerned?
• You notice significantly more shedding than usual.
• Development of bald patches.
• Dull dry hair that falls off when touched.
• Your pet is continually itching, scratching or biting itself.
What can you do about it?
• Make some notes about the intensity and frequency of the shedding and discuss this with your vet.
• Groom your pet very regularly with an implement that causes no pain and pair grooming time with a great treat for your pet. This will make grooming something the pet enjoys rather than suffers through.
Momo’s had a bad week. His mum found him shivering under a bush on Thursday morning. When she coaxed him inside he didn’t feel much like breakfast and curled up in front of the fire. He’d eaten dinner on Tuesday and gone out for a stroll around his domain feeling as fit as a fiddle. By the time his mum found him he had a fever and was very miserable.
When she took him on her lap for a cuddle he snuggled up until she rubbed his head – OW! He sprang onto the floor and under the couch.
His mum realised something was very wrong and whisked him in to see us. We found a tiny wound on his head and extracted a claw. Poor old Momo had taken on an intruder in his garden. No wonder he had a headache – an abscess was forming under the wound.
We started treatment straight away. Blood tests and observation proved that it was a fresh wound so we clipped and cleaned it, started strong antibiotics (cats’ mouths contain some very nasty bacteria that love the airless space under the skin) and gave him something for the headache.
Because Momo’s owner had found him soon after the brawl and the wound was fresh we didn’t have an abscess to lance. The earlier we can treat cats after a fight the less likely it is that a general anaesthetic and surgery will be necessary.
Cats are most active finding mates and defending their territory in late winter and spring. Poor old Momo had got caught up in the annual feline fight festival. His mum is going to keep him indoors after dinner and through the night to try and prevent another episode.
Because of the all the rain over the last 6 months and now the very warm days, fleas are hatching in unprecedented numbers around Canberra.
Signs of flea infestation:
- Cats develop an allergy to flea bites. They groom or scratch excessively and develop “miliary” dermatitis.
- The fleas cause anaemia in kittens and debilitated animals.
- Cats are infested with tapeworm (Dipylidium caninum) from eating infected fleas during grooming.
- Conquer fleas on your cat with long lasting flea control products (Frontline, Advocate, Revolution, Advantage) applied as a spot on. Flea collars, shampoos and powders kill fleas present on your cat at the time of application but have little residual effect.
- Remove flea eggs, larvae and pupae from the environment with regular vacuuming of carpets, sofas and beds. Throw away or burn the dust bag to prevent eggs and larvae developing.
- Professional fumigation controls larvae and pupae.
- Wash bedding in hot water or replace regularly.
- Spray garden sheds, cars and favoured outdoor sleeping spots.
Cat fleas hatch from flea pupae in your house in warm, humid conditions. Our carpeted, centrally heated homes are ideal for the year round development of fleas.
After feeding on a cat adult female fleas lay eggs that fall off onto couches, carpets and beds. The microscopic eggs develop first into larvae that migrate deep into carpets, furniture or cracks in floors away from the light, and then into pupae. The pupae contain adult fleas which lie in wait for the next cat or dog to pass.
Effective flea control depends on knowing the flea’s life cycle.