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Dogs - Parasites

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Parasites are small organisms that need to live on or in another larger organism to survive, and include worms, fleas, mites and ticks.  The larger ‘host’ organism can be your dog, your cat, or you!

Routine parasite treatment is as important in protecting your dog’s health as vaccination, and because many dog parasites can also affect humans, by preventatively treating you are protecting the health of the whole family.

Resistance to parasite treatments is continually developing, and so we will only ever prescribe your dog a modern, prescription-only treatment that we know to be effective and safe.  For us to be able to do this we just need to have seen your dog once a year (hopefully just for a vaccination!) and then we can supply all the parasite treatment you need over the counter without appointment.

Ectoparasites - the creepy crawlies!

All skin diseases are considered related to parasites until proven otherwise.

Fleas

Fleas are now seen all year round, and can happen to any dog whether they meet lots of other dogs or not! Fleas bite humans but do not live on us. Some dogs can carry many fleas and not show any signs, others can have a single bite and it is enough to trigger allergic skin disease.

With a life cycle as short as 21 days and infestations taking at least 3-4 months to fully get on top of, monthly preventative treatment is always the best plan.

Mites

Commonly called ‘mange’ when they cause problems, mites are small insects that live on the surface of the skin or deep in the hair follicles. Some, like Demodex mites, are always present and only overgrow if the dog is unwell for some other reason; others like Sarcoptes (fox mange) can infest any dog, and all cause intense itching and painful scaly skin.

Ticks

Ticks are blood-sucking insects that attach to a host for three days before dropping back into the environment. This in itself can cause irritated skin, but of even more concern are the diseases they can transmit like babesiosis and Lyme’s disease. Ticks used to be rare in the Midlands, but as the climate changes and more dogs are being imported from mainland Europe we are unfortunately seeing ticks more often.

What treatment should I use?

We recommend monthly treatment with a tablet called ‘Simparica’, which prevents and treats all of the above. This is safe for use in puppies through to adults, and most dogs will take it as a tasty treat!

If you or your dog get on better with spot-on treatments, or you have specific requirements for your dog and it’s parasite control, talk to any of our vets for up-to-date advice on other treatments that we can order in for you

Endoparasites - Worms

Roundworm

Roundworms are the commonest ones encountered in dogs, and are mostly seen to cause disease in young puppies. All puppies will get roundworm from their mothers, passed through the placenta and milk, but the numbers can be dramatically reduced by worming during pregnancy and in early life.

Unless the dog is very young or very ill the worms do not tend to cause disease, but prevention is vitally important as they can be transmitted to humans through dog faeces. The worms form cysts in the eyes or other body organs, and are a cause of blindness in children, and death in those with weak immune systems.

Tapeworm 

The commonest tapeworm in dogs is Dipylidium caninum, which is transmitted by fleas!  Another type of tapeworm, Taenia ovis, is spread by contact with sheep faeces.Again both of these worms can form cysts in organs like the liver, and cause organ failure.

Lungworm

Angiostrongylus vasorum is a relatively new worm in the UK, and we are starting to see more cases. It can be transmitted by the dog eating slugs, snails and frogs; even licking around where these animals have been or playing with toys left out in the garden is suspected to have caused cases.
The lungworm lives in the blood vessels between the heart and the lungs, and can cause pneumonia and/or blood clotting disorders. It is often fatal to the dog.

What treatment should I use?

For routine preventative worming we use a tablet called ‘Milpro’. In young puppies and dogs at risk of lungworm this treatment should be given monthly.  For dogs over 6 months old and those at low risk of lungworm, treating every 3 months is usually sufficient to reduce the risk to humans and the dog.  There are other wormer treatments your vet may advise you to use for specific conditions.

Did you know?

We have designed our Platinum  Health Plan to help you spread the cost of vaccinations and preventative parasite treatments over the year, reducing the overall cost.  

In the plan, once every three months we will automatically dispense three Simparica tablets and one wormer tablet for your dog, and inform you they are ready to collect.  It also gives you TWO full health checks a year, and 10% off all other services we provide! (including extra wormer tablets if you want to worm monthly).

See the Practice Plan page for more details on the savings this could give you, or call into the practice to pick up a sign up form.