Posted By: Cara

The Sun is out, and so are the creepy crawlies !

Parasite control in dogs and cats is important all year round, but particularly in the spring and summer months, when fleas and ticks are more prevalent in the environment. Fleas are the most common external parasite of companion animals, and they are regularly seen as a cause of itching in the vets. Ticks can not only be an irritation but spread some serious diseases too.

Parasite control used in Veterinary Practice comes most commonly in two forms, a spot-on or a tablet, either for dogs or for cats. The treatment supplied by the vet is the most up to date, safe and effective – and for these reasons it would be recommended to always obtain parasite control from your veterinary practice rather than the pet shop. The spot-on treatment is a small amount of liquid to be applied from a pipette onto the skin on the back of the neck, making sure to part the animal’s fur. The newest forms of parasite treatment tablets are flavoured and can even resemble stock cubes. This means that the veterinary parasite treatments available to owners are easy to apply, or can often easily be given as a treat!

A host of parasites can make their way inside family pets and even the most responsible pet owners may not know how to fully protect their pets against the risks of parasites. Common internal parasites (also known as endoparasites) include roundworm, tapeworm and lungworm. These parasites can make their way into the guts, airways, blood vessels and even the skin or eyes of animals. The other type of parasite, the group known as ectoparasites, include fleas and ticks. It is important to note that most of these parasites can be transmitted to humans, in what is known as “zoonotic” disease – so this is another important reason to keep your pet protected, especially in a household of young children, elderly or immunocompromised people who are most at risk of developing disease from these creatures.

In the Veterinary profession, we encourage routine treatment for all parasites. This can be monthly, or even three-monthly depending on the treatment used. This is because prevention is far better than cure. Flea infestations can cause severe skin disease, incessant itching, widespread hair loss and even life threatening anaemia in young puppies and kittens. Worms, especially in younger animals again, can cause severe vomiting and diarrhoea and even death. Ticks are known as a concern within people for their spread of diseases, notably Lyme’s disease. They spread disease by taking a ‘blood meal’ when they latch on to the skin to feed and this is when they transmit potentially deadly conditions by transferring other, smaller parasites and bacteria into the animal’s (or indeed people’s) bloodstream. For these reasons it is essential to prevent your animal from coming into bodily contact from these parasites, so they are not at risk from such diseases. Some of the conditions mentioned can be very hard to diagnose or successfully treat – so prevention really is the key rather than treating in the face of a parasite problem.

We all like to cuddle our pets and keep them as healthy as possible, so parasite treatment is an important part of a pet owner’s responsibility. There are many products on the market which can make this seem confusing, but as it is such a crucial part of pet health it’s really vital to have a discussion with your vet about the best parasite product you can use for your animal – especially with all the fleas and ticks coming out with the weak weather this summer.

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