Fleas, Ticks and Worms, and what they mean for your dog
We are entering the season of fleas and ticks. Having had one friend whose dog has had an infestation of fleas and another that has had a tick encounter I thought now was a good time to write about these creatures and what we can look out for to protect our pets from ticks and fleas.
Dogs can get fleas from anywhere! A dog can get fleas from one jumping on them from a passing dog who has fleas. Fleas tend to live in the warmer softer areas of your dog (under the groin, armpits, base of tail) and it's only when there are more of them that you notice them crawling through the coat. The rump and neck are common places to spot flea dirt. A trick to check if your dog has fleas, if you suspect flea dirt, brush some of the dirt onto a damp tissue, if it turns red it is highly likely it is flea dirt and your dog has fleas. Then look carefully through your dog’s coat with a flea comb to check for the critters.
Flea bites can cause itching, leading to a rash, sores, inflammation and hair loss.
Flea Treatment for dogs - there are treatments that you can buy over the counter, but we would advise going to your vet to get advice on the most suitable prescription only spot-on treatment for your dog’s age and condition as they contain more effective ingredients. Treat all other pets in the household at the same time!
It is also advisable to wash your dog in a flea shampoo before applying the spot-on treatment from your vet.
House Treatment - You need to hoover your house and car, you may want to put a flea collar in your hoover bag to kill the fleas and stop them from climbing out of the hoover. Once you have hoovered thoroughly you’ll need to treat all areas that your dog has been in with powder or spray. A spray is good for getting under your furniture. All of your dog bedding needs to be washed, you can add some flea shampoo to your laundry to help ensure the fleas are eradicated.
You need to break the flea cycle and kill all the eggs and larvae that will have dropped off into carpets/bedding etc. Flea eggs and larvae can remain dormant for months!!!
Dogs usually pick up ticks when they have been through long grass, woodland, heathland or parks. It is advisable to check your dog if you are walking in new territory. Ticks are blood sucking parasites that attach themselves to your dog and suck blood over a few days, growing in size. You may think on first inspection that they are a skin tag. Look for little black legs close to the skin.
Ticks can transmit Lyme’s disease.
Tick removal for dogs - It is advisable to have a Tick Twister remover to hand. Be careful to ensure that the head and mouth parts are carefully removed. You don’t want to squeeze the body or get the tick to regurgitate its stomach contents into your dog. If the ticks head is left behind it will create an abscess. Once the tick is removed clean the bite site. Wash your hands thoroughly.
Treatment - there are treatments that you can buy over the counter, but we would advise going to your vet to get advice on the most suitable prescription only spot-on treatment for your dog’s age and condition as they contain more effective ingredients.
The most common forms of worms are Roundworm and Tapeworm, but Lungworm is becoming more widespread.
Signs that you may notice that indicate that your dog has worms are, weight loss, although your dog has an increased appetite. Worms can be seen in diarrhoea, faeces or vomit, dragging their bottom, anal licking, pot bellied appearance, tapeworm segments around the anal region. A dog with lungworm may not show any signs at all, but here are some possible intermittent signs you may see lethargy, coughing with difficulty in breathing, coughing up blood, intermittent nose bleeds, spinal pain or paralysis.
Roundworm – These are 3-5” long with a spaghetti like appearance.
Tapeworm – These are cream flat segments that are passed out in faeces
Lungworm – A roundworm that lives in the lung or adjacent blood vessels
Worm treatment for dogs - Adult dogs should be treated every 3-6 month, there are wormers that you can buy over the counter, but we would advise going to your vet to get advice on the most suitable prescription-only wormer for your dog’s age and condition.
Lungworm Prevention - Slugs and snails are the intermediate hosts, they can pick up lungworm larvae in the environment and pass these onto toys left in the garden or onto outside dog bowls. Pick up dog toys left in the garden and clean outside dog bowls regularly.
Here’s to a parasite free summer and autumn months, but if not - and some years are worse than others for infestations - being prepared and good preventative measures should help keep these critters under control.