The term parasite describes any creature which uses another ‘host’ to live. They range from endoparasites (within the body), including lungworm and tapeworm, to ectoparasites (outside the body), including fleas, ticks and mites. Our pets are very prone to being infected by any of these parasites, but with effective parasite control it is preventable.
Although daunting, it is easier than ever to prevent parasitic burdens in our pets. There is a vast array of differing antiparasitic treatments available on the market, ranging from the spot-on variety to tablets and collars.
A hot news topic recently has been about the emergence of diseases in the UK due to the infestation of certain areas with a more continental species of tick. These parasitic diseases (aka vector-borne diseases) have always been present but rarely diagnosed. This tick-borne disease Babesiosis has been reported in one area of Essex, not too many miles from us.
Endoparasites include Lungworm and tapeworm
– Lungworm – Angiostrongylus vasorum in dogs and Aelurostrongylus abstrusus in cats. The South East has seen a rise in the number of cases in the past decade due to the warm damp climate. (The rise comes from an increase in the number of slugs and snails our pets encounter). The larval stages are eaten by our pets and travel to the lungs. They then develop into adult worms. Infection with lungworm can cause fatal damage to lung tissue if left untreated. Unfortunately, we have seen cases which have progressed too far and the pet has sadly passed away. Other clinical signs include internal or external bleeding and coughing.
– Tapeworms – These parasites live within the intestines of our pets, and are most commonly diagnosed by seeing small white segments within their faeces. Infection is through two major routes 1) Flea bites or 2) Consuming infected meat – scavenging, hunting etc.
Ectoparasites include; fleas, ticks, and mites.
– Fleas – Fleas can transmit one species of tapeworm from animal to animal. Our pets can also sometimes develop sensitivities to these parasites called “Flea Allergic Dermatitis” which can be very itchy to those pets affected. The problem with fleas is that only 5% of adult fleas live on our pets – therefore 95% live in our houses where our pets sleep, eat etc. Therefore, it is very important to not just treat your pet monthly, but also consider treating your house yearly.
– Ticks – these are parasites which attach to our pets and suck their blood. They are normally found on the face, abdomen, ears and legs. They are commonly picked up from areas of grazing land, open heathland or forests (e.g. Knole Park, and Haysden Country Park). They can transmit Lyme’s disease as well as a variety of other diseases including Babesiosis which has been in the news recently.
-Mites – They come in a lot of shapes and sizes. These little parasites can either live or burrow into the skin. The most commonly seen are ear mites, which live within our pets’ ears. Clinical signs include; head shaking, scratching and excessive discharge from the infected ear.
There are a huge number of parasiticides on the market some cover an array of parasites, whilst others only specialise at preventing one or two. However, as with all products, some are better than others. The aim of any parasite control is to prevent the parasites infecting/infesting our pets, or if they already have – to help get rid of them. They come in a range of applications from a spot on, tablets, collars, with the same aim of either preventing/treating infestations.
As part of our Pet Health Club, we provide a 12-month supply of both flea and worm products. This consists of a monthly treatment for fleas, worms and lungworm along with an annual tapeworm.
If you have any questions regarding parasitic control, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be more than happy to talk and help you chose the right product for your pet.