Niddrie Veterinary Clinic

03 9379-8913

Fleas, worms, heartworm and ticks

Flea Control

As we keep our homes nice and warm throughout winter we now see fleas all year round. Only a small part of the flea population (5%) actually lives on your pet, the fleas’ eggs and larvae (95%) live in the environment and can survive for up to a year, so it is important to not only treat your animal directly for fleas but also decontaminate the environment as well.  Wash your pet’s bedding using the hottest cycle and regularly vacuum/clean carpets.

Dogs and cats can have a reaction to flea saliva resulting in a skin condition called Flea Allergy Dermatitis or FAD. Treatment of FAD can be complicated and veterinary consultation is recommended.

Some signs that your pet may have fleas include:

  • Scratching, biting and hair loss, especially at the base of the tail and rump

  • You may see fleas (especially over the rump and in the groin region)

  • It can be difficult to find the fleas, but is relatively easy to check for flea dirt.  Simply moisten a cotton ball, part your pet’s fur and place the cotton ball on the skin over the rump. If the cotton ball takes on black specs surrounded by a reddish area, this may be flea dirt and can indicate that your pet has fleas.

Warning: Some brands of flea treatments for dogs are potentially lethal when applied to cats. Always seek veterinary advice about the best flea treatments for your pet.

Most flea treatments are in the form of a spot-on, given monthly- see the table below.

Please call us to discuss an appropriate flea control program for your pet.

Intestinal Worms

Worming is one of the first health care issues pet owners need to address as pups and kittens are the most susceptible. As their name suggests, intestinal worms are parasites that live inside your pet’s intestines.

Most species of animal, as well as humans, can be infected with intestinal worms including dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, fish, birds and reptiles.

Common intestinal worms in Australian pets are:

  • Roundworm

  • Tapeworm

  • Whipworm

  • Hookworm

If your pet has a large number of worms it may find it difficult to maintain body condition and it can lose weight.

It is important to maintain a routine worming treatment for your pets, to reduce levels of infection and to reduce environmental contamination. Re-infection is a common problem, particularly in pets that are in contact with a heavily contaminated environment. Another very important reason to worm your pets is to protect your family; as children in particular can become infected with certain dog and cat worms.

Below are some tips to consider regarding worm prevention:

  • Promptly clean up pet faeces

  • Practice good hygiene, always encourage children to wash their hands regularly (especially after playing in dirt or sandpits, playing with pets or prior to eating)

  • Prevent children from playing where the soil may be contaminated

  • Keep your pet's environment clean

  • Always dispose of dog faeces in public parks and playgrounds

Most wormers are in tablet form, but spot-ons also exist. See the tablet below for guidance.

Please call us to discuss an intestinal worming program for your pet.

Heartworm

Heartworm is a parasite that is spread by mosquitoes so you pet does not even need to be in contact with other pets to become infected!

As the worms mature in the heart they can cause a physical blockage.  In the earlystages of infection there may be no visible signs, however, infection may eventually lead to signs of heart failure (reluctance to exercise, lethargy, coughing) and even death. Heartworm is present throughout most of Australia (except Tasmania and arid areas).

Thankfully, heartworm is very easy to prevent and should form part of your pet health care routine. We have very effective preventative treatment options available including tablets, chews, spot-on's and even an annual injection for dogs administered by one of our vets (see table below for more information). If your pet has not been on heartworm prevention we strongly recommend a heartworm test prior to starting a prevention program, followed by a repeat test 6 months after commencing.

Please call us to discuss the best heartworm prevention for your pet.

Tick Control

The main tick of concern for pet owners is the Paralysis Tick (Ixodes holocyclus) as it can cause paralysis and death within 2-4 days of attachment. Whilst Paralysis Ticks occur naturally only in certain geographic areas (mainly along the coastal eastern seaboard of Australia) they can attach to pets who visit these areas during the warmer months and are being reported more in Victoria including in the inner suburbs of Melbourne.

If you notice a tick on a pet that is not displaying signs of tick paralysis, remove the tick straight away. It is better not to try and kill the tick first as the dying tick may inject more of its potent toxin into your pet. If you are not confident removing the tick please call us immediately to make an appointment to have it removed.

Once the tick is removed your pet should be kept cool and quiet whilst being closely monitored for 24 hours. If your pet starts to display any signs of tick paralysis, such as vomiting, weakness, staggering, breathing difficulty, or altered bark, seek immediate veterinary attention as this is a genuine veterinary emergency. If your pet is showing any of the above signs, do not offer food or water as these may be accidentally inhaled in tick-affected dogs.

Treatment of tick paralysis includes searching for and removing all ticks. This may include clipping the animal completely and/or the use of medication to kill remaining ticks. Tick antiserum is administered to counteract the toxin and supportive care is provided during recovery. This can be costly in comparison to what it would cost to use tick prevention initially.

However, no tick prevention is 100% effective and should always be used in combination with daily searches of your pet. Searching your pet shouldn’t cease once you return from tick-affected regions but should continue for at least 7 days after returning home. Use your fingers to feel over the entire body, especially under the collar, on the face and around the front of your pet. Don’t forget to check carefully between the toes, under the lips and in the ears.

Please call us to discuss the best tick prevention for your pet. 
 

Parasite prevention can get pretty confusing- here's a ready reckoner to help you navigate through it all.