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Salmonella Infection in Pets & People: Symptoms, Prevention, and Treatment

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Salmonella is a group of bacteria that can live in the intestinal tract of many different animals. Salmonellosis (sal-mohn-el-OH-sis) is a bacterial disease caused by Salmonella.

Although Salmonella is most often spread when a person eats contaminated food, the bacteria also can be passed between people and animals. Many different animals and pets can carry these germs. Animals known to commonly spread Salmonella to humans include:

  • Reptiles (turtles, lizards, and snakes)

  • Amphibians (frogs and toads)

  • Poultry (chicks, chickens, ducklings, ducks, geese, and turkeys)

  • Other birds (parakeets, parrots, and wild birds)

  • Rodents (mice, rats, hamsters, and guinea pigs)

  • Other small mammals (hedgehogs)

  • Farm animals (goats, calves, cows, sheep, and pigs)

  • Dogs

  • Cats

  • Horses

How do animals and people become infected?

Animals become infected with Salmonella through their environment, by eating contaminated food, or from their mothers before they are even born or hatched. Salmonella is naturally in the intestines of many different animals. Animals with Salmonella shed the bacteria in their stool which can easily contaminate their body parts (fur, feathers, or scales) and anything in areas where these animals live and roam (terrarium or aquarium, chicken coop, pen or fencing, countertops, sinks, etc.). It is important to know that many animals can carry Salmonella and still appear healthy and clean.

People can get a Salmonella infection if they do not wash their hands after contact with animals carrying Salmonella or their environment, such as their bedding, food, or tank water. For example, some pet products, like pet foods and treats, can be contaminated with Salmonella and other germs. Pet food and treats that may be contaminated include dry dog or cat food, dog biscuits, pig ears, beef hooves, and rodents used to feed reptiles (including frozen feeder rodents). Additionally, reptiles and amphibians that live in tanks or aquariums can contaminate the water with Salmonella, which can make people sick even if they don’t touch the animal.

Who is most at risk for serious illness?

Anyone can get sick from Salmonella, but some people are more likely than others to get salmonellosis. People who are more likely to get salmonellosis include:

  • infants

  • children 5 years of age and younger

  • adults aged 65 and older

  • people with weakened immune systems, such as people with HIV/AIDS, organ transplant patients, and people receiving chemotherapy.

Prevention

The best way to prevent getting Salmonella from animals is to always wash your hands with soap and running water right after contact with these animals, their environments, or their stool.

DO/

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and waterRight after touching animals.After touching your pet’s food (like dry dog or cat food, frozen feeder rodents) or treats (like rawhide bones, pig ears, biscuits).After touching the areas where they live and roam.

  • Use running water and soap, if possible.

  • Use hand sanitizer if running water and soap are not available.Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water as soon as a sink is available.Adults should always supervise hand washing for young children.

  • Use soap or a disinfectant to thoroughly clean any surfaces that have been in contact with animals. Do not let children 5 years of age and younger do this task. Children 6 years of age and older can help with cleaning and disinfecting but only if they are supervised by an adult.

  • Clean your pet’s cage, terrarium, or aquarium and its contents (such as food and water bowls) outdoors, if possible. If you must clean your pet’s habitat indoors, use a bathtub or large sink that can be cleaned and disinfected afterward. Avoid using a kitchen sink if possible.

  • Use a bleach solution to clean and disinfect.

DO NOT/

  • Do not let children 5 years of age and younger, the elderly, or people with weakened immune systems handle or touch animals that can spread Salmonella (like turtles, water frogs, or poultry). They should also try not to touch the water from the animals’ containers or aquariums.

  • Avoid keeping live poultry, amphibians, and reptiles in homes and facilities with children 5 years of age and younger or people with weakened immune systems.

  • Never eat or drink around high-risk animals (like turtles, water frogs, chicks, ducklings), or in areas where they live and roam.

  • Keep animals away from areas where food and drinks are prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens or outdoor patios.

  • Do not ask children 5 years of age and younger, the elderly, or people with weakened immune systems to clean pets’ habitats and their contents.

  • Persons 65 years of age and older and those with weak immune systems should wear disposable gloves if they have to clean their pet’s habitat.

  • Once you finish cleaning, throw out the dirty wash water in a toilet or sink that is not used for food preparation or for drinking water.

What are the symptoms of a Salmonella infection?

Salmonella Symptoms in People

People infected with Salmonella might have diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal cramps. Infants, the elderly, and people with weak immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness. Please visit CDC’s Salmonella website for more information.

Salmonella Symptoms in Pets

Many animals with Salmonella have no signs of illness at all and appear healthy. Pets that become sick from Salmonella infection typically have diarrhea that may contain blood or mucus. Sick animals may seem more tired than usual and may vomit or have a fever. If your pet has these signs of illness or you are concerned that your pet may have a Salmonella infection, please contact your pet’s veterinarian.

Since there have been several pet treats recalled due to contamination with Salmonella, you should tell your veterinarian if your pet recently consumed a product that has been recalled. Do not feed your pet any more of the recalled product. Throw the product away immediately.

How can Salmonella infections be diagnosed and treated?

Diagnosing Salmonella in People

Salmonella infections in people usually resolve within 5-7 days, and most do not require treatment other than drinking plenty of fluids. People with severe diarrhea may need to spend time in a hospital getting rehydrated with intravenous fluids. Lab tests are needed to determine if Salmonella is the cause of a person’s illness. For more information about diagnosis and treatment, please visit CDC’s Salmonella website.

Diagnosing Salmonella in Pets

If you suspect that your pet has Salmonella, see your veterinarian. Salmonella infections may require prompt treatment with supportive care and fluids. If your pet is very sick, it may need to be treated with antibiotics or be hospitalized in a veterinary clinic. Your pet’s veterinarian is the best source of advice on your pet’s health.

More Information

Learn more about salmonellosis at CDC’s Salmonella website, which includes answers to frequently asked questions, technical information, and additional resources.


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Genetic Disorders in Cats

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Genetic disorders are health conditions that are hereditary. Genes that carry particular health concerns often skip several generations of felines and develop in future pets belonging to the cat’s family. The types of conditions that develop are often breed-specific. Just as the breed of cat determines if the cat is long haired or short haired, so are certain genetic disorders predisposed to pets. Research suggests that purebreds are also more likely to inherit genetic disorders than non-purebred pets.

 

Breeds that are genetically predisposed to disorders:

  • Burmese

  • Persian

  • Siamese

  • Himalayan

  • Bengal

 

Genome Mapping

Genetic testing helps to determine healthy pets safe for breeding purposes. Research into newer techniques is trying to detect the presence of abnormal genes in cats used for breeding and in newborn kittens. Since several pets are carriers of the defective gene, even though they don’t exhibit clinical symptoms of a genetic disorder, genetic testing helps to determine pets safe for breeding. In recent times, science has developed a new methodology for modifying abnormal genes with gene therapy—however, clinical trials are still underway.

 

Genetic Disorders in Burmese Cats

Burmese cats inherit several gene disorders such as: keratoconjunctivitis sicca, ocular dermoids, hypokalemic myopathy, and encephalomeningocele. Burmese cats are also prone to developing certain eye and facial malformations.

 

Genetic Disorders in Persian Cats

Persian cats inherit many more genetic disorders for their breed, ranging from: seborrhea, glaucoma, kidney disorders, hip dysplasia, epiphora and even Chediak-Higashi syndrome.

 

Genetic Disorders in Siamese Cats

Siamese cats inherit several genetic illnesses such as asthma, glaucoma, malignant tumors of the mammary glands, mast cell tumors, and hydrocephalus. Siamese cats are also prone to developing hip dysplasia, strabismus, mucopolysaccharidoses, and heart disease.

 

Genetic Disorders in Himalayan Cats

Himalayan cats inherit polycystic kidney disease, eye disorders such as cataract, alopecia, and cutaneous asthenia.

 

Genetic Disorders in Bengal Cats

Like Himalayan cats, Bengal cats are less prone to inheriting as many genetic disorders, such as retinal atrophy.

 

Other breeds prone to genetic disorders

Although the types of disorders inherited are fewer, breeds such as Maine coon, Devon rex, and Abyssinians develop ophthalmic and bone disorders, among other conditions. It is pertinent to the various genetic disorders pets may suffer from in the future in order to monitor any symptoms of disease and to take preventive measures to slow the onset of health concerns.

 

Tips for Pet Owners

Although gene modification is trying to eliminate genetic disorders, the process is expensive and requires elaborate testing. Pet owners should talk with their vet about preventive techniques or the use of supplements to safeguard felines from known genetic illnesses. Cats suffering from diabetes or urinary tract disorders due to genetic predisposisions require lifelong diets and home care.

It is important to have your vet check on your cat before selecting them for breeding, as the healthiest of cats are more likely to deliver a healthy litter.


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Feline Skin Diseases: When is licking more than just grooming?

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Dermatopathies (skin diseases) are quite common in cats. Studies indicate that between 6% and 15% of feline patients have at least one dermatopathy and many cats suffer from more than one. A recent study done by Cornell University Hospital for Animals showed that 22% had two skin diseases and 6% have three distinctive skin diseases.

 

The skin is the largest organ in a cat’s body, which comprises up to a quarter of its body weight. It also has many important functions, such as a protective barrier to the environment and regulates body temperature.

The skin is composed of:

The epidermis

The epidermis is the top layer that provides protection.

The dermis

The dermis is the supportive layer underneath the epidermis, which provides nourishment to the top layer.

The subcutis

The subcutis is the innermost layer that contains protective and insulating muscles and fat.

The appendages

The appendages include the claws, sebaceous glands that lubricate the skin and hair, and tiny muscles called arrector pili that can make hair stand on end.

Leading causes

Numerous conditions, from parasites to allergies, can cause skin diseases in cats. The geographic location is also linked to the prevalence of certain conditions. In upstate New York, for example, the most common causes of skin disease in cats seen by dermatology specialists are allergies to airborne particles, food, or flea and mosquito bites. On the other hand, in other countries like Canada and the United Kingdom, studies show that abscesses are the most common cause of skin disease in feline patients.

 

A cat’s lifestyle, gender, or breed can also affect their risk of various skin conditions. Outdoor cats for example, have a greater chance of infestation by external parasites (such as fleas) and a higher risk of injury and abscesses from fighting with other cats or animals. Additionally, male cats are more likely than female cats to engage in aggressive behavior that may result in bite wound-induced abscesses. There are also certain breeds, like Himalayans, which are more prone to skin disease than other cat breeds.

 

Common (clinical) signs of skin disease in cats include:

  • Excessive scratching, licking, or chewing of the fur

  • Loss of fur

  • Scabby, scaly, or flaky skin,

  • Swellings or bumps on the skin


 

Treatment of skin disease in cats

The treatment of feline skin disease depends on its specific cause. Flea infestation is treated by using certain flea control products to eliminate fleas from both the cat and its environment. Food allergies are typically treated by a set diet that does not contain ingredients in which the cat is allergic to. Abscesses are treated by draining the infected site and putting the cat on antibiotics to fight any bacterial infections. Fungal disease is treated with anti-fungal medications. Often in cases, the cause of skin disease in cats may transfer to other cats (and in some cases, to people), so preventing transmission from animal or human is often an important element in a treatment plan.

 

Cats with a skin disease will often suffer from dermatitis (skin inflammation). The inflammation may result from the process that starts the disease (like food allergies or the cat itching and scratching in response to the irritation stemming from the disease). In both cases, inflammation leads to itchiness, and thus scratching expedites skin damage (triggering a possible, yet relentless cycle of inflammation and skin damage). Careful consultation with your vet can help you arrive at the best strategy to treat your cat’s skin disease.

 

Prognosis of skin disease in cats

Depending on severity or cause of feline skin disease, the predicted outcome for cats is often favorable. There are rare exceptions where skin disease in cats is an indicator of a more serious illness, however by visiting your vet and following the treatment plan closely with your feline, the result will lead to resolution of the problem.


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