The World of Parasites
Spring is finally here; the sun is shining, the birds are chirping and it seems as if summer is nearly in full swing. While we all love the warmer weather and getting back outside for walks with our favourite furry family members, this hot weather means that parasites are out and ready to strike. As proud pet parents, there are a range of parasites to be aware of and make sure your pet is protected against. Parasites can be quite dangerous and cause many health problems to develop. If this happens, it will be expensive to treat and painful for our pets. Therefore, it is important that we keep all parasite protection up-to-date.
As we embark on our spring morning walks, the most common parasites to be aware of are ticks, fleas and worms. Worms include heartworms, hookworms, tapeworms, whipworms (canine only) and roundworms. Who knew worms would be such a worry? But, fear not pet parents, read below for an explanation into these parasites and how to know if your furry friend has been infected.
There are a range of ticks out in the community. Types of ticks include the Bush Tick which can simply be an irritation and Paralysis Ticks that continue to cause many fatalities every year. If you’re travelling around, especially during the upcoming holiday period, Paralysis Ticks can be found up the Eastern Seaboard from Bairnsdale in Eastern Victoria and continuing to the Northern Territory. If your pet has a Paralysis tick, you will notice: limited movement in their back legs, coughing, variation in tone of voice, trouble swallowing and vomiting. These parasites can be prevented through tick prevention products. These include Bravecto, NexGard, Advantix and Simparica. Bravecto has also recently launched a 3 monthly spot on for cats.
Now is the perfect time to check your family pet’s flea treatment has been kept up-to-date. Treatment can be administered monthly through a spot on or chew, or Bravecto offers 3 months protection off a single chew for dogs or spot on for cats, there is also a 6 monthly spot on for dogs . Fleas are the tiny parasites that cause our pets to constantly itch and scratch. Some of the other symptoms include over-grooming, agitation/distress, skin lesions, red spots on their bedding and, in some cases, you will see the fleas within their fur. Due to their direct aim on your pet’s skin, if fleas are left untreated, this can cause skin disease called Miliary Dermatitis and is implicated in tapeworm infestations.
Remember: These little fleas can also affect humans!
Did you know that a female flea can lay approximately 50 eggs a day? That means she can lay 5,000 in her whole lifetime!
While there are many worms that can affect pets, you can control the intestinal forms with an all-wormer medication. Heartworm however, needs to be prevented with a different medication. This is very important as heartworm can cause your pet to pass away. This type of worm is spread through mosquitos. Once your pet has been bitten, it will take approximately 6 to 7 months for the larvae to become an adult heartworm. After this, the heartworm will settle in their heart and lungs. The symptoms of this parasite include fainting, weight loss, coughing and shortness of breath. It is important to note that preventative heartworm treatment must be given to your pet even in the cooler months. This is best achieved by a yearly injection administered by your friendly vet.
What to do if your pet has been infected by a parasite
Noticing your pet has been infected by a parasite can be a scary and stressful moment. The best option is to take them directly to the vet so that treatment can begin as soon as possible. If you are unsure what preventative medication to use, you should also have a chat with the team at your next visit. The world of parasites is extensive and serious, so the best way to appreciate the beautiful spring air, is to ensure your pet’s parasite control has been managed. Let’s enjoy this sunshine in peace!