Fleas and worms

One of the major benefits of being a member of the Healthy Pet Club is the treatment against both fleas and worms is covered as part of the plan. Fleas and worms are the most common parasites that we see at the vets, and can cause our pet’s considerable harm if untreated.

If your pet has suffered with either of these conditions, there’s no need to be ashamed or embarrassed – most animals will come into contact with fleas and worms in their lifetime. However, using a good quality preventative treatment like a full inclusive wormer (which also covers lungworm) will prevent the problem from becoming serious or recurring.

Why is it important to treat and prevent fleas?

Fleas are by far the most common parasites that we see in practice. They’re also the main cause of most skin diseases we see in cats and dogs. We have both cat and dog fleas in Britain, but pets can become infected with other fleas such as the hedgehog and chicken flea. All of these species of flea can live on dogs and cats, with cat fleas being the most common flea found on our pets.

Symptoms of a fleabite

Certain individual owners and pets will be allergic to flea bites and should they be bitten, may come out in sore patches and spots. Our pets will often become intensely itchy, and may even suffer with skin infections. For this condition to be prevented, it’s vital both the house and animal are completely free of fleas. It’s therefore important that all animals in the home are treated preventatively, as if one isn’t, they can bring fleas into the home and to other pets.

How do you protect your pet from fleas?

Fleas are very resilient and aren’t killed by simply bathing or grooming your pet – this is why it’s so important to use flea treatments preventatively. Once fleas are in an environment it can take several rounds of good quality treatment to get rid of them completely. Being a Healthy Pet Club member means your pet will receive an excellent quality flea product monthly to ensure both prevention and treatment of any fleas on your pet.

Treat the whole house, not just your pet

Even indoor cats should be regularly de-flead. Fleas are so widespread that it’s very easy to transport them into the home on clothing or furniture.

Some people believe fleas don’t live in their home as they have laminate flooring. This isn’t true – fleas enjoy living in dark places and so the cracks between floorboards/laminate plates make fantastic homes for them. Only 5% of a flea population lives on a pet- the rest of the population live in our homes. If you think your house has a flea problem, please seek the advice of your veterinary surgeon, who will be able to provide you with an effective product to treat your home.

Another popular myth is that flea problems only happen during summer. This is a real misconception, as with the regular use of central heating and their resilient nature, fleas have become a year round problem.

Flea prevention is key

As well as causing skin disease, sadly fleas can cause fatal disease for very small, sick or young animals. Unfortunately, we see cases where puppies and kittens have overwhelming flea burdens. The fleas drink huge quantities of the animal’s small blood volume, and they become fatally anaemic. It’s therefore vital to talk to your vet about flea protection if you wish to breed puppies or kittens. Your vet will be able to advise you on the treatments available for pregnant animals and animals producing milk for young puppies/kittens.

Fleas, worms and your pet

Fleas and worms are closely linked as the lifecycle of certain worms that affect our pets involve fleas harbouring worm eggs in their gut. That said, if an animal doesn’t have fleas, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have worms as not all worm life cycles involve the flea.

There are three main types of worms commonly seen in our pets:

Roundworm

These worms live in the small intestine and feed on the contents of our pets’ guts. Roundworms are often passed from mother to young via milk and so worming puppies and kittens correctly is especially important. If untreated, roundworm problems can cause:

  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Weight loss (as the worms will “eat” the nutrients that the pet’s body should be using).
  • A pot belly.

Roundworms are also a concern as they can cause problems in humans, including upset tummies and even, in extreme cases, blindness, where worm larvae migrate to the eye. Roundworm treatment is incorporated into the Healthy Pet Club benefits, in the form of a spot on.

Tapeworm

These worms are commonly seen in pets that eat raw meat (with hunting pets and foraging dogs being at particular risk). These are the worms that use the flea as part of their lifecycle. They can grow to a great length, and can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and weight loss. Tapeworm segments and eggs are excreted in our pets’ poo, and this can sometimes cause irritation, meaning that they can “scoot” along the floor. This is very uncomfortable, and can cause the skin and fur around the pet’s bottom to become sore and infected. Tablets which are included on the Healthy Pet Club benefits are used to treat tapeworm. Your vet will advise you how regularly to treat your pet. If your pet “scoots” after treatment, you should visit your vet in case they have a problem with their anal glands.

Lungworm

Lungworm is rapidly spreading throughout the United Kingdom, and is a real concern for vets as infections can result in fatalities. Infection occurs when dogs eat snails or slugs. One case, seen at one of our practices, involved a dog that had a snail stuck to its coat and it had accidentally swallowed the snail when it was grooming itself. Worryingly, lungworm can cause a range of signs which can make it very difficult for vets to diagnose as they’re very non-specific. Such signs include:

  • Coughing.
  • Reluctance to exercise.
  • Bleeding disorders.
  • And even seizures.

It’s possible to cure cases if they’re diagnosed early, but often due to complications (such as blood loss or brain damage secondary to a seizure) pets are sadly lost. It’s very easy to prevent and treat lungworm – applying a treatment every 28 days will ensure your pet is protected.