Everything you need to know about fleas and worms

Everything you need to know about fleas and worms

Posted by Pet Direct on 28th Oct 2020

As a pet owner, there is no higher priority than ensuring your pet's health and happiness. With this in mind, it’s important to know what the most common dog are, how to recognise them and what treatments to use to get rid of them. Fleas and worms are the two most common pests that your fur baby will encounter. They are nasty parasites that make themselves comfortable on and in your pet, and left untreated, can cause a range of medical problems for both you and your pet.

Fleas

Fleas are a nuisance, and also the most common external parasites found on pets. These tiny, blood-sucking parasites irritate your dog and infest your home—often before you even realise that fleas have moved in. Although fleas are more likely to be a problem during the warm-weather months, they can also cause problems during cooler seasons due to their ability to continue their life cycle indoors.

Fleas go through 4 life cycle stages – egg, larva, pupa and adult. It’s important to know the life cycle as different flea products treat different parts of the life cycle.

Adult fleas live on animals like your dog and cat, where they lay their eggs. These eggs can be spread throughout your home and yard every time your pet scratches, shakes, or lies down. They then hatch into larva. The larvae form cocoons during the pupa stage, where they hatch and become adults that infest their animal hosts.

Flea preventatives kill fleas that come in contact with your pet, stopping your furry friend from bringing them home in the first place. There are several options out there, from flea collars to liquid applicants and pills. If you regularly wash your dog, then you may want to use an oral treatment rather than a topical one. WashBar Flea Repellent is a natural option and is perfect for use in between flea treatments.

If your pet already has fleas, you have the additional problem of determining how to get rid of the fleas. Whilst the preventative measures will kill the fleas on them, it’s now the fleas, eggs, pupa and larvae that are probably infesting your home environment that have to be dealt with. This requires patience. In most cases, it takes 3-4 months to get rid of an infestation, as it takes this long for all of the fleas in your home to go through their life stages.

5 steps for eradicating fleas in your home:

    1. Wash all bedding in hot, soapy water.
    2. Vacuum all carpets, hardwood floors, linoleum, and tiled floors, and throw away the vacuum bag or disinfect your vacuum.
    3. Apply an environmental flea control.
    4. Apply a spray, pellet, or non-toxic treatment for your yard.
    5. Continue to treat your dog and cat regularly for fleas.

Checking for fleas

Preventing your pets from getting fleas remains your best option, but how will you know if you pet has a flea problem?

The tell-tale signs are when you notice your pet repeatedly scratching and chewing. On occasion, you might see the tiny brown fleas moving quickly through your dog’s coat or cat's fur. Use a flea comb on your dog’s coat and if you see tiny brown particles; it’s probably flea ‘poop’. You can also grab a pet wipe and run over their coat/fur, if you find browny red specks then this could be flea dirt (digested blood).

Flea allergy along with continued scratching will lead to hair loss, reddened irritated skin - normally along the rump, tail, belly and thighs.

As an added concern, dogs can also get worms from swallowing a flea infected with a tapeworm larvae. Flea treatment plays a vital role in helping prevent your pet from getting this particular type of worm.

Worms

There are different types of worms that can infect your cat or dog; and as with fleas, you need to know what they are, their symptoms and how to treat accordingly.

Wormers are based on different worms and symptoms. Each worm has its own set of symptoms (although there are many overlapping symptoms); so it’s important that you know what to look out for.

Roundworms

Are the most common worm infestation found. The symptoms are a pot belly appearance, diarrhoea, vomiting, a dull coat and weight loss. Visually, you may be able to see the worm in your pet's faeces – they look like pieces of spaghetti, around 15cm or longer.

Tapeworms

If your dog or cat has abdominal pain, nervousness, severe itching around the anus, vomits and has weight loss, it’s likely to be a tapeworm problem. You may see this in your pet's faeces – sections that could still be moving will give the stool a rice-like appearance.

Hookworms

They can’t be seen and are usually diagnosed by a lab test. Symptoms include a bloody stool, anaemia, weight loss, pale gums, diarrhoea and a lack of energy.

Whipworms

Also can’t be seen and require a lab test for diagnosis. Symptoms include anaemia, weight loss, flatulence, diarrhoea with blood or mucus in the stool and a lack of energy.

Heartworm

Fortunately, present evidence indicates that New Zealand remains free of heartworm infection.

How do worms find their way into your pet?

Your pets are generally infected with worms through eating infective worm eggs in soil and eating prey animals (such as rodents). Puppies and kittens are most commonly infected through their mother, either through nursing or during embryonic development (the latter being the most common).

How often should you de-worm your dog?

How frequently you need to treat your pet for worms will depend on the product you use. Make sure you always check the packet for the instructions. Many wormers will protect your dog against all necessary types of worms for 3 months such as Endogard and Drontal.

Puppies are at a disadvantage when it comes to worms and need to be wormed – every 2 weeks until they are 3 months old; monthly until they are 6 months old and then every 3 months as an adult. Puppies and kittens should be wormed with an all-wormer specifically for young animals like Endogard.

When worming your pet, please also ensure that you use the recommended dosage as a higher dose than diagnosed can be fatal to your fur friends.

If you have any questions about keeping your pet protected against fleas and worms, don't hesitate to reach out to one of Pet Direct's Customer Service Experts on 0800 200 240.

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