Worms, fleas and tick prevention

Worms

Worms are parasites found within the gut of your pet. Roundworms look like pieces of string. Tapeworms are long and flat with segments, which look like grains of rice and are mobile. They can occasionally be seen on the hair around the bottom. Worm eggs remain infective in the environment for years.

What can worms do to my pet?

Heavy infestations can result in vomiting and severe diarrhoea and cause a loss of blood, weight and condition. Worms weaken the immune system, and by moving through major organs can cause other illnesses such as pneumonia. Whilst pets with less severe infestations may show no external signs, they are still a possible source of infection to others, including humans.

What can worms do to my health?

The greatest threat to human health is the eggs from the roundworm Toxocara. They may be picked up from the environment by chewing dirty fingernails, failing to wash your hands after handling your pet or allowing your pet to lick you. Although serious consequences are rare, these worms can cause blindness, heart problems and epilepsy. Also the tapeworm Echinococcus can be fatal to humans if ingested.

How would my pet get worms?

Puppies and kittens may be born with worms or they may pick them up through their mother’s milk. Worm eggs are left behind on the ground when infected animals pass faeces, then picked up on the fur of the muzzle and paws. These eggs may then be swallowed while grooming. Pets that hunt can pick up worms by eating rats and mice. Some worms can get into the body through the skin. Tapeworms can be picked up when pets groom and swallow fleas that are infected with tapeworm eggs.

How can I control worms in my pet?

You have to bear in mind that there is absolutely no tablet or injection you can give a pet which will prevent worm infection. The best you can do is to kill any worms which may be present on a regular basis, so it is best to choose a wormer that suits your needs and your pet’s lifestyle.

To avoid worms reaching maturity and affecting your pet’s health, and to reduce public health risks, you should worm your pet regularly. There are a number of different forms available so even if administering medication is difficult, there will be a solution for you. Some are even available combined with flea preparations providing an all-in-one treatment! We have found that some over-the-counter wormers are not as effective as the prescription wormers. Please talk to us and we can advise on the most effective treatment for your pet.

Lungworm in dogs

How can my dog get lungworm?

The larvae of the lungworm parasite (Angiostrongylus Vasorum) are carried by slugs and snails and problems arise when dogs (and more often puppies) accidentally or purposefully eat these pests when rummaging in the garden, eat grass or drink from puddles or outdoors water bowls. Foxes can also become infected and are increasing spread throughout the countryside. Frogs are also known to carry the lungworm larvae and add an additional risk to dogs.

There are two main problems with dogs becoming infected by lungworm :

  • Infection with lungworm in dogs can be fatal
  • Dogs infected with lungworm spread the parasite into the environment as the larvae are excreted in the dog’s poo.

What are the symptoms of lungworm in dogs?

Signs of lungworm infection are difficult to spot, but there are tests available should we be suspicious your dog has picked up lungworm. Some signs you may see at home are:

  • Coughing
  • Tiring easily
  • Excessive bleeding even from minor cuts
  • Nose bleeds
  • Weight loss
  • Poor appetite.

How can you prevent lungworm in dogs?

Lungworm is preventable and in most cases when diagnosed early enough is treatable. There is only one veterinary product licensed for prevention and treatment of lungworm so please contact the surgery to discuss with one of our staff members.

Fleas

One of the most common parasites caught by pets is fleas, with every cat and dog suffering from them at some stage in their lifetime.

What can fleas do to my pet?

  • Flea bites cause discomfort and irritation.
  • Many pets become sensitised to flea bites which leads to intense itchiness, and severe self-inflicted trauma flea allergy.
  • In severe cases fleas can cause anaemia.
  • Fleas are responsible for transmitting tapeworms to our pets.

Fleas breed throughout the year in centrally heated homes. It is therefore important to treat all cats, dogs and rabbits within a household and to maintain a flea control programme throughout the year.

How can I control the fleas in my pet?

Please talk to us for treatment advice. We have found that many non-prescription preparations simply do not work well enough to achieve effective flea control. It is practically impossible to prevent your pet coming into contact with fleas so regular treatments are necessary to control the problem and prevent a build-up within the home. An effective flea control programme may involve the use of a combination of products. These attack both the adult flea stage on your pets and the immature stages within the home.

Ticks

How can my pet get ticks?

Ticks lie in vegetation and attach to dogs or cats as they brush past.

What can ticks do to my pet?

  • Ticks pierce a hole through the skin and feed on blood. They can cause reactions at the site of attachment.
  • Ticks may cause anaemia if there is a severe infestation in a young animal
  • The most important risk associated with ticks is the diseases they can transmit, e.g. Lyme Disease in the UK and Ireland.
  • Diseases such as Babesiosis and Ehrlichioisis can be transmitted to pets travelling abroad, therefore regular tick treatment for travelling pets is important.

What can ticks do to my health?

Ticks can also attach themselves to humans and transmit tick-borne diseases.

How can I control ticks on my pet?

Regularly examine and groom your pet, if you spot a tick remove it promptly using a tick hook. Our nurses can remove ticks for you if you make an appointment. If you regularly walk your dog in long grass or woodland, or if your cat frequents these types of places, you should use a treatment to repel and kill ticks.

Our Health Club for cats and dogs includes flea, tick and worm treatments and is a great way to reduce and spread the cost of your pet’s routine healthcare. Click here for more information.

 

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