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Parasites

Parasites can be passed on to other animals, and you and your family

Parasites

Parasites can be passed on to other animals, and you and your family

When it comes to your pet’s wellbeing, you will do whatever you can to keep them healthy and happy at all times. But did you know that treating them regularly for parasites is one of the best ways to do so?

Fleas, worms and ticks are the most common types of parasite to affect household animals. As well as causing pain and discomfort, if your companion has a severe infestation, the consequences could be grave.

At Stokesley Veterinary Practice, we are firm believers in preventative health care. After all, why would you wait for your companion to become ill if you could prevent it in the first place? For that reason we strongly recommend you treat your pet for parasites regularly.

However, it’s important to remember that not all flea, worm and tick treatments are suitable for all animals. You should therefore book an appointment with one of the friendly, knowledgeable vets or nurses at our practice, and they will be happy to advise you about the right product to use, and how to administer it effectively.

Please note: If you are interested in spreading the cost of your companion’s routine health care – vaccinations, health checks and parasite control – you may be interested in The Pet Health Club.

Fleas

  • They survive in warm environments such as your pet’s fur, your furniture and grass in the warmer months
  • They can have up to 50 offspring every single day, making them extremely difficult to eliminate the longer they are left
  • They can be passed on to other animals
  • They survive by drinking warm blood
  • Their saliva is an allergen, which means if they bite you or your pet, it will result in a sore, red, itchy bump
  • They often carry worm eggs which can be bad news for your pet if they swallow one whilst grooming themselves

Symptoms include: itchy bumps on the skin, black/brown specks of flea dirt in the coat and adult fleas seen in the fur.

Worms 

There are several types of worms which can affect dogs and cats. These include:

Roundworms (Nematodes)

Most of these are gastrointestinal parasites, the most significant being the Toxocara species.

Toxocara canis

They are readily picked up by puppies via their mother’s placenta or milk – the worms colonise the intestine and can cause stunted growth, a pot belly and diarrhoea

  • Adult dogs easily ingest eggs from other dogs’ faeces when out and about
  • If humans accidentally ingest the eggs, the worms can cause blindness and damage to other organs – this is why it is very important to worm puppies and adult dogs regularly

Toxocara cati 

These are the equivalent of roundworm in cats and have a similar life cycle. It can be passed onto kittens from their mother and can also be picked up when cats hunt birds and rodents

We recommend worming puppies and kittens every two weeks until they are 12 weeks old, then monthly until 6 months old. Adult dogs and cats should be wormed 3 monthly. Please ask our vets for more information.

Whipworms and hookworms

  • Are less common parasites of the gastrointestinal tract. They can also be eliminated by routine worming

Angiostrongylus vasorum or ‘French Heartworm’

  • It’s larvae migrate through the lungs and pulmonary vasculature, usually resulting in signs such as coughing and anaemia, although signs may also be non-specific
  • Infection was historically reported in the South-West of England and Wales. While still uncommon, incidence is now more widespread
  • Dogs become infected by eating or licking slugs, snails or frogs, which act as carriers of larvae

These segmented worms live in your pet’s intestines and rarely cause disease in cats and dogs, but the segments may be seen in their faeces.

The tapeworm Dipylidium caninum 

  • Uses fleas as an intermediate host in its life cycle so its presence is an indicator of flea and louse infestation
  • Some tapeworms can infect livestock or humans so it is important to worm dogs and cats regularly to prevent disease in humans and food-producing animals

The adult tick

These parasites are often seen as an engorged grey nodule attached to your pet’s skin; this is the female tick feeding on your pet before dropping off to lay her eggs.

These clamber onto vegetation looking for a host. This may be a large mammal such as a deer or sheep…or it might be your pet!

  • Ticks can be acquired anywhere outdoors but are more common in moorland and woodland areas
  • Ticks in Europe are more prevalent during the spring and summer months
  • Ticks may cause a localised bacterial infection and are capable of transmitting diseases via their saliva, including Lyme’s disease, ehrlichiosis and babesiosis

There are veterinary products available to protect your pet from ticks. Please ask our staff for more details.