While some common parasites in dogs and cats will be less active as we come into cooler months, prevention is much easier than the cure! (especially when it comes to a flea infestation). Paralysis ticks are also present year-round, so we must be vigilant when it comes to parasite prevention.
Read on to learn more about parasites we commonly see in dogs and cats, plus some of our recommended treatments and preventative care products.
Common Parasites in dogs and cats
Parasites like fleas, ticks and worms can be spread from other pets or wildlife, or found in your home, garden or at the park. So effective parasite control is essential for a happy and healthy pet. There are three main groups of parasites we aim to protect our dogs and cats from:
- Intestinal worms
- Heartworm (spread by mosquitoes)
- Fleas, and
Dogs and cats can be infected with several different intestinal worms including hookworm, tapeworm, roundworm and whipworm. Infection usually occurs from walking, sniffing and licking contaminated surfaces such as grass or ground where another pet has toileted. Worm larvae can be found in lizards, birds, insects and mice, so pets who hunt can become infected this way as well.
Intestinal worms can cause issues such as diarrhoea, weight loss and anaemia (low red blood cell count). High loads of intestinal worms can cause severe illness in young animals, so it’s especially important to follow the worming protocol recommended by your vet for puppies and kittens.
Did you know that worms can be transmitted to humans via licking or even just patting? That’s another reason to treat your furry friend for intestinal worms!
Treating worms in dogs and cats can be done with a simple chewable tablet given monthly or every three months – see our worming treatments for dogs and worming treatments for cats.
For cats, there are also all-in-one treatments for fleas, ticks and worms plus some tried-and-tested spot-on treatments for fleas and worms. The most popular treatments for dogs are chewable tablets that cover fleas, ticks and worms.
Fleas are external parasites that suck the blood of your pets. Fleas cause discomfort and itching, and in large numbers can cause anaemia (low red blood cell count). Fleas are also one of the leading causes of dermatitis (itchy skin) in dogs and cats.
For fleas, proactive prevention is much better than a cure! Once a flea infestation takes hold in your home it can be very difficult to get rid of as they lay their eggs in the environment and these eggs can lay dormant for some time before hatching.
Preventing fleas in dogs and cats can be done with a simple monthly or three-monthly tablet or spot-on treatment (flea treatment for dogs or flea treatment for cats). However, getting rid of a flea infestation requires treating the animals and multiple rounds of removing the eggs in your home environment (yuck!).
Ticks, including paralysis ticks, bush ticks, cattle ticks, and brown dog ticks, are small insects that are prevalent across most coastal areas in Australia. The one of most concern is the paralysis tick, which is found all along the eastern coast of Australia – as far as North Queensland and down south into Victoria!
Paralysis ticks can be picked up anywhere, including your backyard, as they commonly drop off our native wildlife. Paralysis ticks are more active during warmer months, but are still present in winter, so year-round protection is strongly recommended – see our all round flea, tick and worm prevention for dogs and our flea, tick and worm treatment for cats.
When paralysis ticks attach to our pets, they release a powerful toxin into their bloodstream. This toxin causes paralysis, and symptoms can continue to get worse for up to 48 hours after removal of the tick. It is very common for pets to pick up more than one tick as well.
Parasite control for puppies and kittens
Some parasite control products are only recommended for puppies and kittens above a certain age or above a certain weight, so please contact us via email or live chat if you would like more advice (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you’re unsure about what treatment is most effective for your puppy and kitten, then please contact a local vet in your area.