Looking out for signs of fleas, ticks and worms is all part of responsible pet parenting.
Do not be fooled by the size of fleas, ticks and worms. Small as they may be, they can lead to health issues for your dogs and puppies, or even for you. Being a responsible pet parent means making the safety of our pets a priority. And the best action plan for this is awareness and prevention.
First, we must understand what these parasites are and their dangers to pets and humans alike. Second, we need to know what are the signs and symptoms that our pet dogs could already have them. Finally, we must be quick to prevent these parasites from infecting our pets and family our home.
Did you know? Fleas usually carry tapeworms. So when you treat dogs for fleas, keep in mind that you also have to treat them for tapeworms.
Fleas are very small insects that only 5% of them, usually the adult fleas, are visible to the naked eye. They live by ingesting blood from your dogs, causing itchy bites mainly around the neck, groin and folds in legs.
The most common one found in dogs is the cat flea. These fleas can be spread through clothing, by contact with other pets, and can be found wherever your dogs spend their time – dog beds and blankets.
Dogs are most at risk during the warmer months because fleas are provided with an ideal environment to breed. They normally decrease during winter months, but probably not so anymore due to modern day central heating in our homes.
Signs and symptoms:
If you find your dogs and puppies nibbling and scratching around their bottom and tail region, this could be a sign that they have fleas. Since fleas are generally unseen, what you have to look out for is their poo. This is just the size of sand appearing in little black dots which are found in your dog’s coat, close to the skin.
Ticks are small creatures which are grey or brown in colour with an oval shape. They appear quite similar to spiders and mites. These ticks live in woodland, bushy areas or long grass. They grab onto dogs’ coat and once attached often look like warts. Once in your dogs, they grow as they start feeding on your dog’s blood.
Despite their size, they can transfer several diseases to dogs through their bite. These diseases are mainly bacterial infections which may cause fever, rashes, arthritis, or even neurological problems.
Signs and symptoms:
Ticks are most prevalent from April to September. You can look for them around your dog’s neck, legs, ears, groin and armpits as they prefer moist and dark areas. Ticks are well known for spreading the bacterial infection Lyme Disease to humans. If left undetected can cause serious illness. Checking your pet has not carried ticks in their fur into your home is important.
There are a different types of worms which can cause big problems to our dogs. Since they can be passed on from the mother before birth, and after through milk, puppies are most prone to infections.
Dogs do not often show signs of illness, depending on the volume of worms. But in extreme cases, worm infections can lead to death.
There are several types of worms that can cause harm to your dogs. Some of the most common include roundworms, tapeworms, and hookworms. Let’s look at each of them more closely:
Roundworms: These are the most common intestinal worms found in dogs and they appear like thin, elastic bands in whitish-yellow colour. These worms are usually transferred from the dog’s mother in the womb or from their milk. It can also be picked up in soil contaminated with roundworm eggs. A build-up of roundworms in the intestines can cause blockage in dogs’ digestive system leading to fatal conditions. Humans, especially children, can also be infected by roundworms.
Tapeworms: Tapeworms are flat, ribbon-like intestinal worms that can appear like white grains of rice joined together forming a tape. Dogs can get them from raw meat which already have tapeworms. They are particularly found in parts like liver and heart from common carriers like sheep, cattle and pigs. If dogs ingest fleas, they are also most likely infected with tapeworms. People can also get tapeworms from their dogs. Children can accidentally eat tapeworm eggs found in the soil, in dog’s fur or poo.
Hookworms: Hookworms are small and thin intestinal worms which suck blood to feed. This can lead to blood loss, intestinal damage or even death in puppies. Just like roundworms, most hookworms are picked up from their mothers, or from eating or walking in contaminated soil with hookworm eggs. Hookworms burrow onto a person’s skin causing inflammation and extreme itchiness.
Signs and symptoms:
Worm infection in dogs may not show signs of illness, except when they are found in large volumes. Still, it is important to note common symptoms of having worms. One usual sign is when you see your dogs itching or dragging their bottom on the ground. They can also suffer from coughing, vomiting, diarrhoea, a bloated belly, weight loss, or black poo.
Prevent Fleas, Ticks and Worms
The best remedy to any illness is prevention. Follow these steps to keep your pets and family safe:
- Do not let your dogs and puppies foul in public places, parks, and children’s play areas. Always clean up after your dog.
- Regularly worm your dogs to minimise egg contamination in the environment. It is recommended that puppies be wormed as early as two weeks upon birth. Continue worming at least three times a year for the rest of the dog’s life.
- Treat your home using recommended powders and sprays and through regular vacuuming.
- Prevent fleas or ticks from the wide selection of medications available in aerosols, powders, insecticidal collars, shampoos, and oral tablets. Read more here: How to Prevent and Treat Flea Infestations
- Use spot-on preparations for treating infection.
- Speak with Petworlds Pet Experts and get correct advice and information on how to protect your pets, family and home.
If you have questions on the range of treatments and medications available for your puppies and dogs, just contact your local Petworld store where one of our helpful and knowledgeable staff will be happy to help and answer any questions you may have.