2001-Thu Mar 30 14:36:40 EDT 2017
Vetstreet. All rights reserved. Powered by Brightspot.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
The first time it occurred to me that veterinarians have a higher gross-out threshold than most people was during vet school. Ensconced in a booth at a local Mexican restaurant, my classmate and I were flipping flashcards and quizzing each other about diarrhea over a couple of burritos.
We were feeling rather chuffed with ourselves until I realized that a hush had fallen over the table next to us. The other diners had all put their forks down and were gazing balefully in our direction.
As it turns out, this would not be the last time I inadvertently repelled someone.
Occasionally, veterinarians come across parasites on dogs and cats that, quite frankly, push owners over the “eeeewwww” line. With apologies to anyone with a weak stomach, here are a handful of cases that expose some less common freeloaders that most pet parents would rather not encounter.
A woman brought her cat in because she was concerned about a raised red lesion on his neck that looked like a tiny puncture wound. Once she confirmed that her cat did, in fact, spend a lot of time outdoors, I revealed my suspicion: a Cuterebra larva was nestled under the skin and had created a little breathing hole.
I received a shocked, blank stare.
Cuterebra, or botflies, often lay eggs around rodent or rabbit burrows, and the eggs hatch into larvae when exposed to warm temperatures. Cats, and to a lesser degree dogs, usually become infested when they explore these burrows with their snouts or heads. The larvae can enter through the pet’s mouth, nostrils or an open wound, or the pet can ingest the larvae when grooming.
Once in the body, the larvae can migrate to many locations, but most form a little swelling, called a warble, under the skin. In the United States, pets usually turn up at veterinary clinics with these lesions in July, August and September. The infestations generally don’t pose a health risk to owners.
Although migration to other locations can cause problems, the skin lesions are relatively harmless to most pets. Still, pet parents shouldn’t try to remove the larvae themselves, because rupturing the larvae can lead to anaphylactic (severe allergic) reactions or infections in the pet.
So I took the cat into the treatment room, carefully enlarged the breathing hole and removed the offending larva with a forceps. My mistake, of course, was in bringing the chubby little specimen back into the exam room to show the owner. She assured me that I had ruined her appetite for the entire day.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
Bartonella is a type bacteria that can be transmitted to cats, dogs and humans from exposure to infected fleas and…
Want to give your pup yummy, low-calorie treats? We’ve got the skinny on which foods are OK to feed him.
Not sure about food puzzles? Our veterinarian reveals why the payoff for your pet is well worth any extra work.
With these simple dental care tips, you can help keep your canine’s adorable smile shiny and healthy for life.
The friendly and inquisitive LaPerm has an easy-care coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.