Parasites can affect any pet; even those that are well kept and healthy. The parasites will affect any age, however are more harmful to the young and elderly. It is important to break the life cycles of the pests with regular preventative treatment which are effective – speak to your vet about which treatments recommend or visit your local reputable pet store and speak to a qualified staff member. Personally I was pleasantly surprised at how affordable the worming treatment was from my vet and it covers all of the types of worms, unlike some other brands. It is also worth mentioning that some parasite treatments are now not 100% effective as the pest has gained immunity to the active ingredients, these tend to be the treatments which you can buy yourself on line without the assistance of a qualified person.
These are the most common parasite your pet is likely to contract and bring home; affecting both cats and dogs. Fleas will make your pet very uncomfortable through biting and causing skin irritation, in severe cases they can cause Anaemia. Fleas can transmit viral and bacterial diseases and also transmit Tapeworm. You may be able to see the presence of fleas on your pet; running across the skin or leaving small black specks behind. They tend to inhabit the warmer areas of your pet such as armpits and inside of their hind legs. You can fight back against infestations by treating your pet with an affective flea treatment regularly; as well as vacuuming, washing pet bedding and soft furnishings. You can purchase a flea comb to remove any on your pet, be sure to squash them though and remember – they can jump!
Ticks are sneaky creatures, they cling to grass and await dormant for its new host to wander past (that can include you), they then latch on for a blood feed before eventually dropping off to lay eggs or find another host. Severe infestations can cause Anaemia, but the most important risk associated is Lyme Disease which can affect your pet and yourself. Proper removal of Ticks is crucial – invest in a tick removal tool which will make this much easier and ensure it is removed properly.
If your pet does get a Tick remember: do not squash the tick body whilst it is attached, remove all of the tick including the mouth part attached to the skin, dispose of the Tick properly by squashing it and putting it in the bin so that it cannot reattach, and lastly disinfect the bite site to prevent infection. Some Flea treatments are also effective against Ticks but not all, so make sure to check your current treatment.
Roundworm: the most common type of worm amongst cats and dogs. Your pet can contract them by accidentally ingesting them from the environment or by eating prey (mice, birds etc) carrying the parasite. Regular and thorough poop picking is important, as even after it has been cleared, eggs can remain behind affecting other pets. Most pets will not show visible signs of infestation but serious bouts may cause vomiting, weight loss, dull hair/fur and bloating.
Tapeworm: Tapeworm eggs are often found in infested pet faeces and may be seen attached to the fur around the anus/base of tail. Fleas can act as a host for Tapeworms and so are often ingested through grooming, scavenging and require regular treatments. Tapeworms show no symptoms but usually cause discomfort and itchiness around the anus – often seen by your pet ‘scooting’ across the floor. Vomiting, diarrhoea and constipation can occur as a result of this parasite.
Lungworm: The most worrying of all worms. These live in the heart and pulmonary arteries of dogs (and foxes). The mature worms are never seen as they stay inside the organs but the larvae are passed through their faeces into the environment. Dogs can become infected by ingesting infected snails/slugs and their slime; this can happen accidentally when grazing on grass, drinking outdoor water bowls, rummaging in undergrowth or playing with a toy which has become infected. Lungworm can be fatal so preventative treatment is crucial. Symptoms include: coughing, tiredness, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive bleeding from minor wounds and seizures. If treated early, a full recovery is possible however this parasite is becoming a very serious risk in the UK because the symptoms are ambiguous and not all worming products treat for this variety.
For my dog Henry, I use two products from my vet practice which treat him for all parasites. I use Bravecto, this is a chewable tablet administered once every 3 months and kills both fleas and ticks. I would advise speaking to your vet for a comprehensive worming treatment too, I use Milbemax which is also administered once every 3 months in a chewable tablet form and it treats these mentioned worms plus hookworm, whipworms and heartworm. Both of these are given at the same time which makes remembering to give them easier, plus I do not have to worry about him getting wet and washing off a topical flea treatment. It is also worth mentioning that even if you are treating your pet with a treatment, you still should be keeping an eye on your pet as not treatment is 100% effective all of the time.
These recommendations are in no way endorsed and may not be suitable for your pet, I would recommend visiting your vet practice and speaking to someone about the treatment options they have available for your pet.