Articles – Parasites

Parasites

Many of the parasites that infect our pets are around the whole year but ticks and fleas are always much worse in summer, especially after the first rains.  

Worms

Dogs and cats are curious creatures and will sniff, lick, eat all sorts of things whilst investigating their environment. Then when they have done with that they will greet each other and you with a lick and a nuzzle, groom themselves and their friends. This is the way worms are transmitted.

Intestinal worms often go undetected as patients are asymptomatic. A large infestation or very young, very elderly or immune compromised pets can show signs such as loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, anaemia, weight loss. Licking around the anus or scooting on their bottom can also be a sign of worms, especially tapeworm. Some life stages of these worms can migrate other areas of the body such as the lungs, the eye, muscle tissue etc.

Intestinal worms – hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms and whipworms,

Oesophageal worm -Spirocerca lupi

All of these except whipworm and Spirocerca can infest humans.

Recommended de-worming protocol

Deworming tablets are safe and easy to give, many such as Milbemax are made in a tasty palatable form. It is essential to use a board spectrum de-wormer to cover all types of worms. Not all de-wormers are active against Spirocerca or their frequency needs to be increased to be effective.

Puppies and kittens should be dewormed monthly until 6month of age.

Adults should be de-wormed at least once every three months.

Fleas

Fleas are not life threatening but they can carry Tapeworm lave and for some their bites starts a nasty allergic reaction – Flea allergic Dermatitis.

Fleas have been around thousands of years and are very adaptably, they are most active in spring and autumn. Understanding their life cycle is key to preventing these critters from infesting your pets/home.

Adult fleas are the life stage that will arrive on your pet. These adults feed and lay eggs. These eggs fall off your pet in to the environment (your dog’s bed, the carpet, your bed!) When the time is right these eggs hatch out in to the next life stage, a larvae. This microscopic worm burrows down away from light. When it has eaten enough it pupates. This is the clever bit! The flea inside this pupa can wait until the conditions outside are optimal before hatching. The new adult flea needs warmth, humidity and food. How do they know “food” is ready for them? They feel vibrations from movement and also can sense change in the level of CO2 in the environment. For every adult you see there are eggs, larvae and pupae stages just waiting to re-infest your pets!

Recommended flea treatments

Most flea treatments are combined with tick treatments some even come with a de-wormer or treat for other external parasites. It’s best to discuss your needs with our staff before purchasing. There are tablets and spot-ons. Some are only for dogs and must never be used on cats. It’s very important to follow the instructions for frequency of dosing so there is no break-through in cover allowing a reservoir of viable eggs to build up in the environment.

Ticks

Ticks carry serious diseases. It is important to understand that not all types of ticks carry these diseases and not all of the carrier type will be infected. All of the diseases below are serious and can be fatal.

Babesia Canis – Spread by Rhipicephalus sanguineus (brown dog tick) – Parasite infestation of red blood cells.

Ehrlichiacanis – Spread by the Rhipicephalus sanguineus (brown dog tick) – Parasite infestation of white blood cells.

Hyalomma tick bite – Hyalomma tick bites cause necrosis (death) of extensive area of tissue around the bite.

It is traditionally thought that ticks are picked up by pets that are out in the bush but some ticks live just as happily in a domestic environment. Ticks have various hosts during their life cycle, so even in your garden your pet could pick up a tick that was dropped off by a passing mouse, bird, etc. Ticks are much more active in the summer months.

The majority of tick-borne diseases are passed on when ticks feed off your pet. Although ticks might bite even after you pet has received a tick treatment, they will consume the “poison” as they start to feed and die thereby preventing them for staying attached long enough to transmit the parasites. 

Recommended tick treatments

Due to the seriousness of tick borne diseases it is essential that whatever product you choose is used exactly as per the instructions. Due to our warmer winters ticks are now active all year round and we see cases of Babesia throughout the year. Take care with your choice of tick treatment, please ask our staff’s advice so that we can get the right one.   

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