Alison Laurie-Chalmers, Senior Consultant, Crown Vets
Providing regular preventative treatment for fleas, ticks and worms is essential for your pet’s general good health and is something we can still do at this time. Keeping your home and pet parasite free, particularly during the current lockdown period, is especially important as the last thing you want to have to deal with at the present time is any unwelcome ‘guests’!
Fleas are parasites that feed on warm-blooded animals like cats and dogs. Unfortunately, most pets will get fleas at some point in their lives. Fleas can be picked up from other animals and within the natural environment. They can also live for long periods of time as eggs and larvae in household soft furnishings and carpets. Fleas bites will cause skin irritation triggering your pet to scratch or bite themselves which can lead to skin inflammation and severe dermatitis. They can also cause your pet to have tapeworm infestation and severe flea infestations can cause anaemia. In addition, cat and dog fleas may also bite humans, causing unwanted skin irritation and allergic reactions. So, for yourself and your pet's sake getting rid of fleas at the outset of any infestation is vital. However, a preventative treatment approach is always best to avoid any flea infestation in the first place.
The most common worms are roundworms and tapeworms, also less common are hookworms and whipworms, and Lungworm is now becoming an increasing problem in the UK. While Lungworms live in the heart and respiratory system, other worms live in the gastrointestinal tract and all can be prevented and treated before they cause any serious problems. Worms can be picked up if your pet eats contaminated soil, slugs, snails, animal faeces or rodents. Also, many puppies can be born with worms. A dog can spread Roundworm larvae to her puppies during her pregnancy in the uterus and after pregnancy via her milk. Worms can cause vomiting, weight loss, increased appetite, weakness and diarrhoea, a swollen ‘pot-bellied’ abdomen, dehydration, and Lungworm can cause coughing and bleeding. Even if your pet appears healthy, if not wormed regularly your pet could be suffering from some type of underlying worm infestation. Furthermore, worms carried by dogs and cats can pose a health risk, not just to the pet in question but also to other animals and humans, particularly children. After ingestion of the Roundworm eggs, larvae can then pass into internal organs and can affect the muscles, eyes, and the central nervous system. So, we do have a responsibility to keep our own pets’ worm free.
Ticks are small parasites that will attach themselves by their mouth to your pet's skin and feed from your pet’s blood eventually falling off several days later. They can be picked up by pets in the natural environment, particularly in places where other animals, such as sheep and deer, have passed through. Ticks can cause local inflammation and skin infections at the tick bite site and feeding ticks can carry severe bloodborne diseases, such as Lyme disease, which can cause serious disease in humans and in pets including joint disease and kidney damage. Removing any ticks as soon as possible is important. However, prevention of ticks though is by far the best course of action though, and there are excellent preventative spot on and oral treatments available.
The best way to protect yourself and your pet against parasites is to use a regular, preventative flea, tick, and worming treatments. Prevention is always much better than cure. So please ask your vet for good professional advice on the best treatment options available for your individual pet.
Don't forget to also clean up after your pet and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. Also remember it is advised to wash your hands before and after handling your pet in the present COVID-19 climate.
During the COVID-19 pandemic we will be able to advise you on their protocol for collecting flea tick and worming treatments from their practice at this time. You will probably have to order and pay for these over the phone and arrange for posting, safe delivery or collection of these products when they are dispensed.