Real stories from our doctors: Check Your Pet's Bedding

By Cindy Lovern, DVM, MS
Banfield Pet Hospital of Short Pump, VA


Daisy, a 4-year-old domestic shorthair cat, didn’t actually present to our hospital with fleas but for a skin infection and alopecia. She underwent the preliminary skin problem diagnostic workup – a skin scrape (to look for bacteria, yeast, parasites or other diagnostic components present on the skin or in the hair follicles which we acquire by using a blade scraped across the skin and evaluating the sample under the microscope) and a fungal culture (used to determine if ringworm is present – a zoonotic condition – something that people can catch from their pets); both came back negative. However, given that her condition seemed to be consistent with sarcoptic mange – a skin parasite that is not always evident on a skin scrape – she was started on injectable ivermectin to evaluate her response to treatment.
 

Unknown Flea Exposure

I saw Daisy for the first time at one of her follow-up appointments. She did indeed look like a kitty suffering from a parasitic skin infection but her skin scrapes were coming up negative and she wasn’t really responding that well to treatment – in addition I myself am the proud owner of a flea allergic dermatitis kitty and her presentation just really brought me back to my own kitty at home.

I delved deeper into Daisy’s history and really started probing into her environment and what may have been altered when the problems with Daisy first began. After extensive questioning I found out that the owner had acquired a dog bed from a friend that happened to be infested with fleas. The owner didn’t realize that the bed had been the source of fleas since she had it in a barn on her property and didn’t realize that Daisy had taken to sleeping on it until recently. She hadn’t shared information with the other doctors at the hospital regarding the dog bed because at the time she hadn’t realized that Daisy had had any contact with it.
 

Diagnosis and Treatment

When I learned of Daisy’s history, I altered the diagnosis and looked at flea allergic dermatitis, or an allergic reaction to a flea bite, instead. I then treated Daisy with FirstShield every four weeks and systemic antibiotics to clear the persistent skin infection.

This treatment, combined with the owner discarding the infested dog bed has helped Daisy’s condition resolve well.