We always learn amazing information at the Texas Pet Sitters Conference (really? There are conferences for pet sitters? Yes!) We spent another fantastic weekend with colleagues learning all things critical to providing exceptional pet care. Have you heard of Chagas Disease? No? Us, either. Read on because it can be deadly to cats and dogs.
What Is Chagas disease?
- Technically, it is trypanosoma cruzi infection. It is transmitted by the kissing bug, a blood-feeding insect. Seven species of the kissing bug have been found in Texas. The kissing bug is most active during warm months.
How is it transmitted?
- A bite. After biting your pup or kitty, the kissing bug poops in the wound, transmitting the disease.
- Oral transmission. Your pup or kitty eats the kissing bug, or the kissing bug has contaminated your fur baby’s food.
What breeds are at risk?
- All breeds, but Frenchies, GSD, Chihuahuas, and hunting breeds are at high risk.
How do I identify a kissing bug?
- Cone-shaped head
- Thin antennae
- Thin legs
- Black or very dark brown, with red, orange or yellow 'stripes' around the edge of their bodies
- Most active at dusk or at night
What symptoms will my furbaby show?
- Decreased appetite
- Weigh loss
- ANY heart condition
What does Chagas cause?
- Heart failure
- Sudden death
- How is Chagas detected
- Diagnostic Imaging
What if I find A kissing bug?
- Capture it in a Ziploc
- Don’t crush it
- Submit a picture here
How do I control the kissing bug?
- Use good insect control measures on your property.
- Keep pets indoors at night when insects are most active.
- Prevent contact with wild animals to reduce infection risks.
- Keep any bedding or dog houses insect-free to prevent exposure to insect feces.
What is the treatment for my cat or dog?
Currently, there are no effective drugs to cure Chagas disease. Treatment will focus on treating heart disease and arrhythmias.