Recently, representatives of the Kentucky River Regional Animal Shelter said they have been seeing an alarming number of animals with flea and worm problems, which, if left untreated, can cause serious health conditions.

“If an animal goes untreated for fleas, they get anemic very quickly. This is especially critical to remember when it comes to young pups and kittens, as their bodies can't handle the anemia as well as larger animals,” said KRRAS Manager Allie Mullins. “If an animal goes untreated for worms, it will most likely kill them as well. Especially if it is hookworms which hook to the intestines and cause issues. Both fleas and worms also lower the immune systems of animals and they cause multiple issues with treating an already sick or injured animal.”

Worms and fleas, said Mullins, can both be transmitted from one animal to another very easily.

“If the population of animals is high in an area then it is very likely fleas and worms will spread throughout the animal community. The best solution is to keep your pet on monthly flea preventative, some medications will prevent both fleas and worms, so you can let your animal socialize without any concern for either issue,” she said.

Within the last couple of weeks, Mullins said, the shelter has been seeing a lot of instances where pets were untreated for these issues and it has caused serious repercussions.

“I have held a kitten who passed away because it was so anemic from fleas that a blood transfusion couldn’t save it, sent two puppies who were crashing to the clinic due to worms (they’re still alive), got a litter of six neonatal kittens who probably won’t make it because they have so many fleas their gums are plain white and just now watched a kitten  die within five minutes of us having it because it was infested with maggots,” said Mullins. “That may be disturbing for some people to read but it is real life and it’s disturbing for everyone to have to deal with.”

KRRAS, Mullins said, suggests that anyone who owns or finds stray puppies or kittens to try seeking help from a vet for recommendations when it comes to flea and worm medications, because they know exactly what works and will have different price range options to choose from. Just because you don’t see these issues, doesn’t mean they aren’t there, said Mullins, stating that it is almost guaranteed that any puppy or kitten around 6-8 weeks of age that hasn’t been wormed yet, probably has worms.

“If you find an animal in bad medical condition, contact someone right away — either a vet, shelter worker, rescue worker, etc. We will always help in anyway we can with no judgment. The sooner the animals get the help they need, the better the survival chance is,” said Mullins.

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