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March is Parasite Awareness Month

As valued members of the family, we want to make sure our pets are happy and healthy.  A key part of this is ensuring that they remain parasite free.  Different parasites can affect your pet in different ways, ranging from simple irritation to causing life-threatening conditions if left untreated.

It’s really quite common for a dog, cat or rabbit to become infected with a parasite at some point in its life and some of these parasites can even infect and transmit diseases to you and your family.  Prevention, diagnosis and safe treatment can make sure the whole family is kept safe.

Fleas

Fleas are common parasites that carry disease caused by bacteria that can cause inflammation of the lining of the heart in cats and dogs.  These bacteria can also affect humans, causing fever as well as illnesses such as encephalitis and endocarditis.

Fleas are also known to carry the flea tapeworm that can cause real harm to our pets, so it’s important that flea control is taken seriously.

One single flea can lay 50 eggs a day, so it doesn’t take long for an infestation to occur. It’s worth noting that 95% of a flea infestation is found on sofas and in carpets, not on the pet itself.  Targeted sprays are available to treat carpets, curtains and other soft furnishings.

The only way to prevent flea issues is to treat your pets with an anti flea treatment regularly, all year round.  This ensures that both you and your pets stay itch free and safe from all flea related diseases.   

Ticks

Ticks are small, parasitic, spider-like creatures.  They are very common, especially throughout the warmer months and they feed by latching onto a host’s skin in order to suck blood. 

This becomes dangerous to pets, as well as people because ticks can carry a disease called Lyme Disease.  This is a bacterial infection that is still fairly rare in the UK but cases are on the rise. Symptoms to look out for include;

  • Lethargy or low energy
  • Difficulty moving, due to swollen joints
  • Swollen lymph nodes/glands in the neck and around the body

If you notice these symptoms in your pet and suspect a tick bite, consult your vet straight away.

There are a number of effective preventative treatments available that either kill or repel the tick once it attaches to your pet.  As well as using treatments regularly, it’s recommended that you make a habit of checking over your pet for ticks and promptly remove any found using a specially designed tick remover. If you are in any doubt, consult your vet.

Worms

Roundworm

Roundworm eggs are found in soil.  They are moist, sticky and can easily find their way into our homes on shoes or animal fur. The eggs can then be ingested as your pet grooms itself and the eggs hatch into worms in your pets’ intestines. Roundworm can also be passed on to humans, particularly children, where serious infestations can cause severe symptoms, including blindness (toxocariasis).

Tapeworm

Pets can catch tapeworms by either eating fleas during grooming or by eating infected mice, birds, raw meat or faeces. Tapeworm look like flattened grains of rice. If you suspect a tapeworm problem is it advisable to treat your pet for fleas as well as worms.  Some species of tapeworm can also spread to humans occasionally causing complications such as blindness (toxocariasis).


Lungworm

Lungworm is becoming more common in the UK and can be potentially fatal if it goes undiagnosed and untreated. Symptoms can be mild but may include a severe cough and life-threatening blood clotting problems. Lungworm can be picked up by your pet when eating slugs and snails – either intentionally or in mouthfuls of grass, vegetation or by drinking water left outside.

Worm control medication will not prevent re-infestation as they only kill worms already present in your pet. Therefore, it is important to treat your pet regularly, especially if they hunt or scavenge.

Don’t forget that tick treatment for cats and dogs along with an annual supply of both worming and flea treatment is available as part of our Premier Pet Care Plan.  For more information on this or if you have any other questions, please get in touch:

St Kitts Veterinary Centre: 01252 844044
Basingstoke Veterinary Centre: 01256 844944
Crookham Park Veterinary Centre: 01252 913990
Firgrove Veterinary Centre: 01252 877799

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