Fleas are small insects that live on pets’ skin and feed by sucking blood. Adult female fleas can produce dozens of eggs per day. Flea eggs do not stick to the fur and fall off quickly into the environment. These eggs then hatch into larvae (a bit like very small maggots) which like to live in carpets, cracks in the floor or within bedding/furniture. Over a period of weeks to months, these young fleas develop into adult fleas and will then hop onto any warm-blooded animal they can find (including humans). Controlling flea eggs and larvae in the environment is a very important part of flea control programmes. For every single flea seen on your pet there may be up to 200 more fleas developing in the environment.
Fleas will often cause pets to become itchy (particularly if they are allergic to flea saliva – a condition known as flea allergic dermatitis or FAD).
As well as causing skin problems, fleas can also carry the eggs of a type of tapeworm. This can cause a tapeworm infestation if a flea is accidentally swallowed whilst grooming. Therefore, it is sensible when treating a flea infestation, to also worm your pet.
It is sometimes not possible to see fleas themselves within an animal’s coat. Often a telltale sign is the finding of flea dirt in the coat (small black flakes which turn red/brown when dampened).
There are several products available to both treat and prevent flea infestations. These come in various forms such as tablets, injections and most commonly spot-on preparations which are generally applied to the skin on the back of the neck. Certain types of these preparations will prevent immature fleas developing into adults as well as killing adult fleas. Generally products available from veterinary surgeries are more effective than those than can be bought in pet shops or supermarkets. Regular treatment with a good quality product is recommended to prevent flea infestation.
If treating an infestation of one pet it is vital to treat all pets in the household and perform environmental control, particularly the areas where your pet sleeps. Washing bedding in hot water and vacuuming all carpets is useful. There are also environmental flea sprays to use around the house. If the environment is not treated effectively it is almost guaranteed that your pet will become infested again.
Worming is a vital part of keeping your dog or cat healthy. This is particularly important when caring for your new puppy or kitten. Worm burdens can have very serious health implications for young animals as they can cause malnutrition and even blockages of the intestine.
Humans can be infected by eating the eggs of some dog roundworms. The larvae which develop can migrate to areas of the body such as muscle, eye and the central nervous system causing illness. This is of particular concern in children and people with weakened immune systems
Roundworms are very common in puppies and can be passed to the puppy before birth or in the mother’s milk. Puppies are often wormed with the breeder but still generally require more doses of worming.
It is especially important to worm puppies that are in contact with young children as certain types of roundworm are zoonotic, which means they can cause disease in humans; children are particularly susceptible.
We recommend using Stronghold at the time of your puppy’s first vaccination. This is a spot on treatment which treats roundworm as well as a selection of skin parasites and also ear mites.
Puppies may also carry tapeworms. These are most commonly picked up through ingestion of fleas. These can sometimes be seen in the faeces as segments of the worm are shed. These segments will have the appearance of rice grains.
At the time of the second vaccination we recommend use of Milbemax which is a combined wormer and treats both roundworm and tapeworm infestations.
Provided there are no problems we then recommend worming with Milbemax every three months.
If your puppy has not been wormed by the breeder we recommend more frequent worming, usually monthly, until the puppy is 6 months old.
If your puppy eats slugs and snails we would recommend a different parasite control regime which includes Advocate to protect against lungworm, fleas and other parasites and Drontal as a multi-wormer (Milbemax can not be used with Advocate).
Dogs > 6months of age
Worming is recommended at least every 3 months. This frequency can vary depending on the product used and worm burden of the animal.
If you are considering breeding your bitch, worming is still required, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy and in early nursing. Please contact the surgery to discuss this further.
Infection whilst in the womb does not occur in kittens. Kittens should be wormed at their first and second vaccinations at least.
Cats >6 months of age
Should be wormed every 3 months
Please note that if you struggle to worm your cat with a tablet there are other options!!! This includes a spot on wormer which is easily put onto the skin of your cat’s neck! Please contact the surgery for more details!
What is it? Lungworm (Angiostrongylus vasorum) is a life threatening infection in dogs. Affected dogs may show signs of lung disease such as coughing but the lungworm also releases substances that affect the blood’s ability to clot. This makes infected dogs more prone to bleeding disorders which can manifest itself as prolonged bleeding from cuts, extensive bruising under the skin, internal bleeding and anaemia (low red blood cell count).
How can may dog get it? Dogs can only be infected by eating slugs and snails, it cannot be passed on from dog to dog. However dogs living in the same household are likely to be exposed to the same infected slugs and snails. Although previously believed to be a problem only in the South of England the latest research shows that this parasite is becoming more widespread and is now affecting dogs across the country.
How can is it it treated? Several drugs can be used to treat lungworm and most dogs recover fully with appropriate treatment. Unfortunately infection can be fatal even with extensive treatment.
How is it prevented? Preventative treatments are available and at Towcester VeterinaryCentre we recommend using Advocate (Bayer) spot on monthly if your dog is prone to indulging in snails and slugs. Advocate can also be used to treat roundworms, fleas, lice and mange.