Parasite Control for Dogs

Fleas

Fleas are a very common problem in both dogs and cats, and most will suffer from a flea burden at some point in their lives. Cats are more prone to dogs for having fleas,  with 1:10 dogs and 1:5 cats being affected at any one time. Fleas commonly cause problems such as itching, irritation, skin disorders (Flea allergic Dermatitis) and, in young or compromised animals, can cause anaemia. Fleas are also responsible for transmission of the Tapeworm Dipylidium caninum.

We recommend preventative treatments for the control of fleas. A monthly spot-on can protect your pet and family from the nuisance of flea bites.  Prescription only medicines are prescribed to animals under our care, but for animals we have not seen, alternative products are available over the counter. It is vital that all pet members of the household are treated at the same time to prevent the burden shifting from one pet to another.

Fleas found on pets are, in fact, the minority when compared to their environment; a mere 5% of the problem is seen on the animal with a whopping 95% of the problem existing as unseen eggs, larvae and pupae in the environment. A statement that always gets us itching!

We always recommend treating the pets environment with an Insect Growth Regulator Spray, which can be obtained from the practice. We recommend that this is carried out annually to prevent an infestation from occuring. Unfortunately, there is a stage of the flea lifecycle that we are unable to destroy. This means that sometimes it can be some weeks before a flea problem can be completely under control, even when treated properly. For this reason, we always recommend preventative, consistent flea treatment to stop an infestation from getting a hold of your household. It is important to ensure all areas of the house and indeed the areas where your dog sleeps, are treated.

Worms

It is often not obviously evident to tell if a cat or dog is infected with intestinal worms, because there are commonly no clinical signs until the infestation has become overwhelming. Clinical signs, if present, may include general ill health, a dull coat, lethargy and in the latter stages can cause weight loss, anaemia, vomiting and diarrhoea. By the time these signs are evident, worms could be damaging  pet health.

There are different types of intestinal worm that commonly cause problems for our pets in the UK.

Gastro-intestinal worms found in dogs are:

Ascarids

  • Toxocara canis
  • Toxascaris leonine

Hookworms

  • Uncinaria stenocephala
  • Ancylostoma caninum

Whipworms

  • Trichuris vulpis

Dogs become infected with worms following the ingestion of infectious larvae or eggs, or penetratio0n of larvae through skin, or ingestion of an animal that has been hosting the worm. In dogs, a mothers milk can also transfer roundworms to her puppies. Indeed, puppies can also become infected during pregnancy and before birth, whereby dormant larvae can travel across milk and placenta.

Tapeworms found in dogs are:

  • Dipylidium caninum (flea tapeworm)
  • Taenia ovis
  • Taenia hydatigena

  • Taenia pisiformis
  • Taenia multiceps
  • Taenia serialis

  • Echinoccocus granulosus
  • Echinococcus multilocularis (although not indigenous to this country, may again be found in dogs in quarantine or travelling under the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS)

It is important to understand that tapeworms cannot be transmitted from dog to dog; they require an intermediate host such as a flea. Transmission occurs by the dog ingesting the infected flea while grooming themselves; the tapeworm then matures inside the intestinal tract. Tapeworms can grow incredibly large – up to 50cms in length! Other tapeworm are acquired during hunting, scavenging or eating raw meat.

We follow BSAVA (British Small Animal Veterinary Association) guidelines and recommend worming  every 3 months, or more often if your dog is a known hunter or scavenger.

There are many different types of wormers on the market: spot on treatments, oral liquid/paste or tablets. It is important to consider what option is best for your pet. It is also vital that we consider flea prevention when recommending a worming program, to prevent the transmission of tapeworm via fleas.

Ticks

These unsightly creatures are members of the spider family, and are arachnids. They can be picked up from woodlands, urban parks and even the garden. Ticks feed on blood that they retract by piercing the skin with tough mouthparts. They are placed very tightly to the skin and cement themselves in place until they have finished feeding. After feeding, they will drop off.

Ticks can be very irritating to pets, and can cause pain and discomfort. Ticks are also fantastic at transmitting diseases to both pets and humans. Ticks can be removed manually, but this must be done carefully to avoid pulling the body from the mouth parts and causing your pet to form an abscess. It is best to seek veterinary advice on the best form of removal before attempting yourself! The good news is that there is a 48 hour window between tick attachment and the likely time of disease transmission; this means that just because your pet has a tick, they do not necessarily have a disease!

There are many options available to your pet, from products that repel them, to products that kill them within 24 hours, to tick removal tools. If you would like to discuss the best option for your pet, please contact us at the surgery. Tick treatments tend to be combined with other parasite prevention treatments, and so it is best to consider the best protection for each individual.