Parasite Control

PARASITE CONTROL

 

There are three main categories of parasites that are a major concern for dogs and cats health. These are intestinal worms, heartworm and fleas.

Intestinal worms:

Worms affect the health of your pet, but can also be transmitted to humans, especially young children. It is essential to commence a worm control program from the moment you take home your new pet. There most common worms to prevent against are roundworm, hookworm, whipworm and tapeworm.

How does my animal get worms?

  • Drinking contaminated water
  • Contact with other infected animals
  • Contact with other infected animal faeces
  • From an infected nursing mother
  • Swallowing fleas carrying the infective stage of tapeworm
  • Eating meat (such as a rodent) that is carrying a parasite

Can I tell if my pet has worms?

Most worms are identified by the presence of their eggs in a dogs faeces. These eggs are very small and are difficult to identify by eye.

Tapeworms and roundworms are two of the few that can be seen by eye. Tapeworm looks like small pieces of rice and can be found in the faeces or around the tail and rear area, sometimes clinging to hair. For this reason you may see your dog scoot his rear across the ground as the worms can be irritating.

Roundworms are long white worms that look like noodles or spaghetti. Occasionally animals may vomit these up or they can be seen in faeces.

TREATMENT OF INTESTINAL WORMS:

AGE

SCHEDULE

0-3 months

Worm every 2 weeks. Puppy and kitten worming syrup may be used during this time.

3-6 months

Worm monthly. An all-wormer tablet can now be used. This controls tapeworm, whipworm, roundworm and hookworm.

6+ months

Worm every 3 months.

Dosages are based on the weight of your pet.


 

Heartworm:

What is heartworm disease?

Canine heartworm disease has long been recognised as a serious health risk to dogs. It is a prolonged and deliberating disease that can be fatal even with the best treatment available. It can result in severe lung disease, heart failure, organ damage and even death. Heartworm disease is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. The worms are called ‘heartworm’ because the adults live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of an infected animal.

Heartworms are long, thin worms that live inside the arteries of the lungs and the chambers of the heart. They can absorb nourishment from the blood and can grow up to 25cm long. The worms release larvae into the blood stream that are picked up by feeding mosquitos.

Symptoms:

Heartworm causes inflammation in the lungs and interferes with the blood flow through the heart and lungs. A cough, lack of stamina and weight loss are often reported. If the burden of worms is low, symptoms progress slowly and by the time they are reported to the vet significant and permanent damage has been done to the heart.

Diagnosis:

Diagnosis is made through a simple blood test. The veterinarian may perform a test that looks for heartworm antibodies.

Treatment:

Drugs are used to kill the adult worms that are resident in the heart and lungs. Recovering patients must be kept in strict confinement for six weeks following this treatment as the dead worms are slowly broken down. Inflammation and blockages of blood vessels can occur because of this and pose a significant risk to the patient. Complications of treatment can be serious and prevention is better than treatment.

Prevention:

For heartworm disease, prevention is certainly better than the cure, plus being easy and safe to use. Monthly medication is given to younger dogs, usually from three months of age. Once fully grown an annual injection can be given or you can continue with monthly medication at home.

Puppy’s under six months of age can start preventive medication with no need for a preliminary blood test. However, dogs over six months must be tested to be proved free of disease before they commence preventative medication.


 

Fleas:

The Flea life cycle:

Within 30 days ten female fleas can multiply to 250,000 fleas. Fleas possess a pair of power legs that enable them to move from host to host. They are fast movers and spotting them on your pet may be difficult. Look instead for evidence that they have been on your cat and dog, like flea dirt, which is the droppings of the flea. It is often visible in the coat and may also be seen on animal bedding. When it gets wet it goes red and looks like specks of blood.

The problem starts when an adult flea jumps onto your pet. The flea bites and has a blood meal. Eggs laid on the coat fall off into the environment (carpet, bedding & furniture). An adult flea may lay up to 400 eggs in its lifetime. Vibrations trigger hatching and the flea larvae that emerge feed on organic material before turning into pupae. When the adult emerges from the cocoon it is ravenous and must have a meal of blood before it can reproduce. An egg can develop into an adult flea in 20 days. Newly hatched fleas can live for many weeks without feeding.

Diseases caused by fleas:

The flea bites your pet for its blood meal. Your dog or cat scratches, making the irritation worse. Many animals are allergic to flea saliva and will scratch, bite and lick due to sever itching after the bite of a single flea. Even in animals not allergic to fleas, a cluster of flea bites can cause intense irritation, which lead to infection after the animal scratches.

Cats do not often scratch. They will over room and puck their hair out so that the coat becomes very thin. The skin is often covered with small scabs and flea dirt can sometimes be seen at the base of the hairs. Fleas also transmit a type of tapeworm.

Treatment and control of fleas:

Always remember to treat the environment as well as the pet. The immature stage of the flea’s life cycle is just as important to eliminate as the adult flea.

The most effective treatment for fleas is a monthly spot on treatment applied to back of neck. Examples include Frontline and Advantage which are stocked at our clinic. They are extremely safe for you and your pet.