Fleas, Ticks & Worm Treatments
All year round we see parasites and as spring and summer approaches they are in full bloom looking for a place where they can thrive. We highly recommend preventing against these harmful parasites all year round.
Parasites spend their time living on or inside our pets resulting in damage to our pet’s well being and general health. Fleas, ticks and intestinal worms are the most important parasites to protect your pet against.
If your pet becomes infected the parasite will begin feeding off your pet, resulting in illness. This is why it is important to regularly treat your pets for parasites. Finding the right preventative for fleas, ticks and intestinal worming can be confusing as products vary and some are extremely toxic for cats. This is why we recommend having a discussion with your veterinarian or nurse about what products would be best suited to your pet.
Fleas are little brown parasites that jump onto the skin of our pets causing flea infestations and skin irritation. Without treatment this enables fleas to infest in our homes and our pets environment, which is often a big concern for our clients. This is why we recommend preventing against fleas all year round.
- Flea fossils have been found that date back to 100 million years ago when dinosaurs were roaming the earth.
- Fleas can jump almost 200 times their own length.
- One flea broke the record and jumped 33cm, that’s equivalent to the average human jumping 300 metres.
- Fleas live for only 2 to 3 months.
- Fleas lay eggs 36-48 hours after a blood meal.
- In one month a 25 female flea can multiply by 200,000!
- In the lifetime of a female flea they will lay 2,000 eggs.
- Female fleas feed on blood up to 10 times their body weight daily.
- When you spot a flea it’s very likely there’s hundreds or fleas jumping about.
- North America holds the largest ever recorded flea known as the Hystrichopsylla Schefferi measuring almost half an inch!
Flea life cycle
Fleas have a 4-stage breeding cycle and reproduce very quickly. The female flea feeds and breeds on your pet laying up to 50 eggs in one day. Below is a diagram of the flea cycle.
Flea infestations in your home
The eggs and larvae like to hide in humid places in the environment, such as cracks between floorboards, carpet and bedding. If there is a reoccurrence of fleas in your pet’s environment you may need to use a flea bomb. A flea bomb can be purchased from your local supermarket and will eliminate any fleas that may be in your home.
Vacuuming the any floor surfaces 2-3 times a week can help clear away any hidden eggs. The pupae stage can be quite resilient therefore you should wash all bedding including any bedding slept on by people. It is very important to make sure you create a flea free environment so you stop the reoccurrence of fleas jumping back onto your pet.
Do fleas cause skin problems?
Fleas can cause many skin allergies that can cause problems such as scratching, reddened smelly and scaly skin. A common skin issue caused by fleas is called Flea Allergy Dermatitis. One flea bite can result in a whole body skin irritation. It is important to seek veterinary care for any skin problem your pet may have.
Fleas and Tapeworm
Fleas host an intestinal worm called Tapeworm. Your pet can become infected with this worm if they ingest a flea. Occasionally this worm can also be transmitted to humans. Regular worming all year round is recommended to prevent this.
Protecting your pet against fleas
It is important to understand that the flea cycle has multiple stages. Treating your pet against fleas may require a flea treatment several weeks apart to break down the infestation.
Flea prevention products
- Monthly Chewables: These are convenient to administer and can work within hours, killing any fleas on your pet and stopping the lifecycle.
- Topical Spot on Treatments: These are easy to apply but can leave a wet spot on the back of your pets neck. Some products also have tick, heartworm and intestinal worming treatment incorporated into the spot on application. Most of these products need to be applied every 2-4 weeks depending on what they are used for.
- Tablets: These include products like Capstar, which act rapidly to kill the existing adult fleas on your pet. These tablets do not remain in the system for more than 24 hours so it is important that they are used with a long lasting flea preventative.
- Flea Shampoos: Shampoos have not proven to be effective and offer no sustaining effects.
- Environment Control: If you maintain flea prevention on your pets it is less likely that fleas will continue to enter into your home. Flea bombs are effective in killing flea infestations and can be purchased from your local supermarket. Vacuuming the carpet regularly can remove eggs embedded in the carpet and washing all of your pet’s blankets on a hot wash can kill any remaining fleas.
Tick prevention just got a whole lot easier! Bravecto is a long lasting tick prevention new to the market. Its prevents against paralysis ticks for 4 months and fleas for 3 months. The best thing about Bravecto is it’s a tasty oral chew! It’s easy to administer and is safe to use with milbemax worming tablets.
Our pets love the summer just as much as we do! It’s a great time of year to be outside enjoying the warmth and sunshine but also important that you recognise the dangers of the Paralysis Tick to our pets during the warmer months.
WHAT ARE PARALYSIS TICKS AND HOW DO THEY SPREAD?
Paralysis ticks are found ramped up and down the East coast of Australia. They thrive in warm and humid habitats, feeding off warm blooded another while injecting a nasty paralysing toxin. This tick is incredibly toxic and potentially life threatening to pets. The paralysis tick especially loves to reside in areas of native scrub and bushland, and areas with long grass cover, which are areas where various wildlife that play natural host to the tick tend to be found.
But avoiding these areas does not reliably prevent a paralysis tick from latching onto your pet. In our region, the risk of a pet acquiring a tick seems to exist regardless; but avoiding these sorts of areas does seem to reduce the risk. Also, very importantly, ticks can definitely be acquired at any time of year, however there seems to be a sharp increase in risk from early spring onwards, well into summer
WHAT DOES THE PARALYSIS TICK DO TO MY PET?
After attaching, the tick feeds on the host’s blood, injecting small amounts of saliva into the dog or cat in the process. The tick’s saliva contains a potent nerve toxin that causes the connection between nerves and muscles throughout the body to malfunction.
This causes weakness, which can manifest itself in many ways including:
- Wobbly hind legs and difficulty walking
- Difficulty breathing
- Complete paralysis.
The effects of paralysis can become so severe that your pet will be unable to walk or lift its head, and without treatment, the majority of affected animals will ultimately pass away.
If your pet shows any of the symptoms mentioned you must seek veterinary attention as soon as possible. Even if you have removed a tick yourself, your pet is still not out of the woods. The toxin has already begun to spread throughout your pet’s system, and without treatment, progression of paralysis and worsening of signs is virtually certain.
HOW DO I PROTECT MY PET AGAINST PARALYSIS TICKS?
We highly recommend that you use a tick preventative all year round. This is the best way to guard your pet against ticks. There are numerous options in general and for dogs, the latest generation of preventatives come in the form of a chewable tablet, which makes them easy to give.
PERFORM A TICK SEARCH
In addition to a preventative, it’s important to perform a thorough tick search daily on your pet by working your fingers through your pet’s entire coat. Pay special attention to their eyes, lips and mouth. If you think you have found tick but are unsure, take your pet to the vet and they will assist you.
Our Veterinarians and Veterinary Nurses can assist you with finding the most suitable tick prevention for your pet. Please note that many of the Dog tick preventative are HIGHLY TOXIC to cats.
What is Toxoplasmosis?
Toxoplasmosis is an infection with the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii ( T. gondii). It is a very common infection that can infect most warm-blooded animals and people. Its primary host is the cat. Generally, infection is asymptomatic (the infected host shows no symptoms) but in some situations it can cause serious illness.
After a cat ingests the parasite in its prey, T. gondii multiplies in the small intestine, and oocysts (a form of the parasite) are passed in faeces – these are infective to other potential hosts. The cat is the only host to excrete oocysts in faeces. Other animals that are exposed to the infective particles in faeces may become infected. Other warm-blooded animals that are infected do not excrete the parasite in faeces, however their tissues (muscle and organs) may contain parasite cysts which may infect other hosts if these tissues are eaten.
Domestic Cats and Toxoplasmosis
Many people worry that their cat may carry the T. gondii parasite and therefore touching their fur will infect them. This is essentially not true. The T. gondii parasite does not live on a cat’s fur so it should be safe to pat them. The parasite is excreted in faeces only for a very short period after infection, and the oocysts must go through a process called sporulation that can take 1 to 5 days before they are able to infect a new host. Most cat owner’s change their cats litter at least once a day, therefore the chance of becoming infected is minimal. Additionally, cats are very hygienic and fastidious about self-cleaning. Keeping your cat indoors will also reduce the chance of them becoming infected by ingesting either infected prey or faeces in their environment.
So how do humans become infected?
- Eating undercooked or raw meat (tissues infected by cysts).
- Coming in contact with contaminated soil (unwashed hands after gardening).
- Coming in contact with infected cat faeces (unwashed hands after changing a litter box).
- Ingestion of unwashed fruit and vegetables from contaminated soil.
- An unborn baby can become infected via transmission through the placenta if its mother is infected during the pregnancy.
Diagnosis of Toxoplasmosis
There are a variety of potential symptoms associated with Toxoplasmosis, which can make it difficult to diagnose. A blood test can identify antibodies that show that an animal has been exposed to the parasite in the past. Often it requires two blood tests in succession to demonstrate with confidence that an unwell animal has had a recent infection with T. gondii. Often the veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics and other relevant medications for suspected Toxoplasmosis while working to confirm a diagnosis.
Tips to reduce your chances of contracting the parasite
- Wash your hands after gardening
- Change your cats litter tray at least daily
- Wash your hands thoroughly after cleaning a litter tray
- Wash all vegetables and fruit
- Pregnant women should avoid litter trays
- Avoid eating raw or undercooked meat
Heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) is a parasitic roundworm which spread from its host by a mosquito. The mosquito bites a pet and injects larvae into a pet’s bloodstream and eventually resides in the lungs and chambers of the heart. The larvae mature into adult heartworms and can grow up to 30cm in length and 2cm in diameter in large populations. The adult worms produce microfilariae that are injected back into the bloodstream of the pet. The mosquito then bites the infected pet and feeds on microfilarea and the cycle begins again.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF HEARTWORM DISEASE?
When a pet is initially infected with heartworm there are no clinical signs or symptoms. Until the adult heartworm has invaded the heart chambers then symptoms and signs will present. This can take 6-7 months for the heartworm to develop in the heart.
Symptoms that you may notice include;
- Coughing (persistent nagging cough)
- Shortness of breath
- Change in exercise abilities
- Heart failure
These symptoms can be in seen in both dogs and cat. Typically dogs present more frequently with heartworm than do cats.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY PET HAS HEARTWORM?
A simple in-house blood tests can be performed at your veterinary clinic and usually results can be given to you before you leave the hospital. Two blood tests are required 6-7 months apart because of the long breeding cycle. This will ensure that your pet is heartworm free!
HOW DO I PREVENT AGAINST HEARTWORM?
There are spot on preventions and orally tablets you can purchase for your cat from you Veterinarian. Fortunately some of these products control against intestinal worms as well and sometimes fleas.
For dogs there are oral tablets and liquids as well as spot on treatments. The most recommended heartworm prevention is the yearly injection given to your dog by a veterinarian.
It is common for pets in Australia to become infected with Intestinal worms. The most common worms seen include hookworms, roundworms, whipworm and tapeworm. The lifecycle of intestinal worms consists of eggs and larvae, which can end up on your pet’s feet. The most common way dogs and cats become infected with intestinal worms is by licking their feet and bottom. Humans, especially children, can also become infected with intestinal worms when dogs lick their face or hands.
Even pets that live mainly indoors can become infected with intestinal worms. Cats that eat mice, insects or little lizards can be exposed to worms.
Treatment of intestinal worms
It is important to make sure you regularly worm your pets. In dogs there are four worms to watch out for hookworm, roundworm, whip worm and tapeworm. Most of the time dogs and cats become infected when they lick their feet which have come in contact with microscopic eggs. Once ingested these eggs turn in larvae and eventually worms. Cats commonly get infected with hookworm, roundworm and tapeworm. Even cats that remain indoors can still get worms if they eat a mouse or insect which can expose them to intestinal worms.
Below is a chart of how regularly you should worm your cat or dog
Every 2 weeks
12 weeks-6 months
6 months – Adult
Every 3 months
We can help you select the products that will best suit your pet.
DOGS WORMING REGIME:
- Puppies: Every 2 weeks until 12 weeks of age
- Adult Dogs: Every 3 months for the rest of their life
CAT WORMING REGIME:
- Kittens: Every 2 weeks until 12 weeks of age
- Adult Cats: Every 3 months for the rest of their life
Just like humans, pets require vaccinations to keep them healthy and protect them from potentially fatal diseases. Treatment against these diseases is sometimes unsuccessful and this is why we strongly believe ‘prevention is better than cure’.
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