Fleas, worms and your pet
It can be alarming to discover that your cat has worms but it should not come as a surprise. All pets are affected at some stage in their life and many will be re-infected unless they are given regular, routine worming treatment. Except in rare cases, worms are unlikely to cause serious harm. Getting rid of worms is relatively simple and inexpensive so regular treatment is strongly recommended, particularly as some types of worm can be passed on to humans.
You can protect your pet year-round with our Complete Wellness Plan, which includes free flea and worming treatments throughout the year and a free annual comprehensive health check.
What types of worms do dogs and cats get?
Roundworm, Tapeworm, Lungworm, Whipworm and Hookworm. All of these worms can affect your pet and are a potential hazard to your family’s health. Statistics show that 60% of all cats in the UK have worms at any one time. An emerging and potentially serious threat is a lungworm called Angiostrongylus. The risk varies significantly in different parts of the country.
What are the symptoms of worms in cats and dogs?
In some cases, your pet will show no symptoms but may be passing roundworm eggs when passing faeces. Infected faeces pose a risk to humans, especially children and on rare occasions, this can have serious consequences such as causing blindness. The presence of worms may weaken your pets’ immune system making it more susceptible to infections.
Cats – Mild infestations provide little or no symptoms in a healthy cat; a more severe infestation can cause vomiting, with diarrhoea or constipation, leading to loss of weight.
Dogs – Light infestations may go unnoticed in a healthy dog. With a heavy infestation, however, your dog may suffer vomiting, diarrhoea or constipation, leading to loss of weight and condition. The migrating larvae of some worms can even cause lung damage, with consequent breathing problems.
Lungworm can cause potentially fatal bleeding issues and severe respiratory signs.
Routes of infection:
1. Ingestion of worm eggs from the soil.
2. Ingestion of worm larvae developing in a host animal, e.g. mouse, bird, rabbit, etc.
3. Ingestion of infected fleas.
4. Primary infection via infected mother’s milk.
5. Angiostrongylus is spread when dogs eat slugs or snails or potentially even drink from water where they have been, e.g. plant trays and pots.
How often should I worm my cat or dog?
Kittens and puppies
Worming is recommended at 2, 5 and 8 weeks of age and monthly thereafter until your kitten is 6 months old. The vet or nurse will be able to advise you on the best product to use.
Adult cats and dogs
Adult cats/dogs should be wormed every 3 months (4 times yearly), cats who are hunters should be wormed more frequently. This is especially important in families with young children to reduce the risk of health problems. Infection with Toxocara canis (the dog roundworm) in children can be very serious, in rare cases even causing blindness.
Pregnant cats (queens)
These should be wormed around the time of giving birth to prevent the transfer of worms via milk. There is no trans-placental transmission in cats, unlike dogs.
Pregnant dogs (bitches)
These should be wormed daily from day 40 of pregnancy until 2 days after whelping to prevent transfer via the placenta or via milk.
What treatments are available for worms?
1) Granules (Roundworm and some Tapeworm) – Tasteless granules which can be mixed in with your cat’s or dog’s food.
2) Tablets (Roundworm and Tapeworm) – To mix with your cat food/dog food or given directly by mouth. Please ask a veterinary nurse to do this free of charge if you find giving tablets difficult.
3) Spot on (Roundworm and Tapeworm) – Some preparations also treat hookworm and whipworm. Some of the flea preparations used on the back of the neck also treat roundworm. There is also a spot on preparation that has been developed especially to treat tapeworm in difficult cats.
We require your pet’s weight to calculate an accurate dosage of wormer.
Remember worm treatments do not have a preventative action – they only eliminate the worms present at the time of treatment. Regular dosing is necessary to keep your pet healthy, worm free and prevent them from contaminating the environment with eggs.
Recommended products for treating worms
The main wormer we use is Milbemax. Please always feel free to discuss your pet’s specific requirements. For example, if you are concerned about the lungworm Angiostrongylus, you may want to consider Advocate which is a monthly spot-on product for fleas and other worms, including roundworm and lungworm, but not tapeworm.
Please ask any of our team for advice on worm and flea prevention and products best suited to your situation.
Fleas are the most common parasite in cats and dogs, and every pet is likely to be infected at some stage in its life. However, with the advent of modern products, it is possible to prevent fleas from becoming a problem in your household. Working closely with your vet, who will give you advice on how to use these products effectively, you will be able to stop these nasty little insects making a meal of your pet and you!
The flea epidemic
Flea infestation is one of the most common health problems occurring in cats and dogs in the UK. In a recent survey, just under 60% of cats and 40% of dog owners had noticed fleas on their pets.
Almost every dog and cat will become infested with fleas at some time during their life. The flea season is traditionally thought to last from the end of April to the end of November. However, fleas have become an all year round problem with centrally heated homes allowing them to breed throughout the year. We regularly see fleas on pets even at Christmas and New Year.
Adult fleas are tiny, dark brown, wingless insects, which can jump up to 165 times their own length, so it’s easy to appreciate how they can jump from one pet to another! Fleas need to feed on blood from either our pets or ourselves in order to survive and to breed. For young puppies and kittens, this blood loss can be distressing and may even be life-threatening.
In adult pets (and humans) the main problem is the flea bite, which leads to irritation and skin allergy problems. Fleas are also involved in the transmission of tapeworms.
Two main species of flea are found in the UK, the cat flea and the dog flea. The cat flea is by far the most common and is able to live and breed on both cats and dogs as well as to bite humans and other small pets. This means that the cat is often the main culprit of the flea problem when both cats and dogs are living in the same household.
Although adult fleas cause all the problems related to fleas, they represent only 5% of the total flea population. The other 95% consists of immature stages of the flea life cycle, which infest the pets’ environment (bedding, carpets, furniture, car seats etc.). The life cycle begins when the adult flea lays eggs in the coat of the pet. The eggs drop off into the environment and develop through immature larvae and pupal stages to form the next generation of adult fleas.
When it first emerges, the young adult flea immediately begins to search for a host and blood meal. After just one meal of blood, the female becomes sexually mature and can start to lay eggs. A single flea can produce over 2,000 eggs in its lifetime!
How do I tell if my cat or dog has fleas?
Fleas are very small and are often hard to detect. When infestation is heavy you may see fleas on close examination of the coat. The best way to check for fleas is to check for “flea dirt” which are brown/black specks seen in the pet’s coat. These are composed of dried blood extracted by the flea.
You can do this by combing through your pet’s coat onto a wet piece of kitchen roll or paper. If the specks turn red/brown, your pet has fleas. It is important to remember that absence of evidence does not necessarily mean the absence of fleas. If there is any unexplained itch or skin problem it is best that fleas are considered ‘guilty till proven innocent’ i.e. correct treatment has been used. Some pets may develop an allergy and there may be red itchy patches on the skin.
How can fleas be treated?
BOTH your pets and their environment must be treated to eradicate any flea infestation.
Treating for your home for fleas
Indorex: These aerosols contain a combination of three ingredients. Together these ingredients kill adult fleas and prevent flea eggs and larvae developing into adults. This breaks the flea life cycle and provides continuous protection for up to 12 months. It also controls house dust mites.
The spray should be used in conjunction with a thorough cleaning of the home.
Treating dogs and cats for fleas
The most widely used flea treatment in this practice is Effipro. We stock various other products that have a range of different indications, which we will be happy to discuss.
Effipro: A spot-on, which is applied every eight weeks for flea control or every four weeks for flea and tick control.