You want your pet to be healthy and happy and that means keeping them free of pests such as worms, fleas, mites and ticks. Here are a few of the main culprits and how they’re treated:
Roundworm is round in shape, white in colour and can grow to 15cm in length if left undisturbed. It lives in the intestine of cats and dogs, where it can cause great discomfort to your pet. Roundworm eggs are tiny in size and pass out in cat or dog faeces.
They can also be easily passed on to humans, so regular treatment to control them is vital. In fact, one of the side effects of roundworm in humans is blindness so it really is necessary that you create a hygienic, healthy and safe environment for your pet.
Your vet should advise you of the best treatment. Generally most vets advise you to worm your pets every month or two, although more frequent treatments may be needed. Treatments come in powder or pill form.
Like roundworm, tapeworm commonly infests cats and dogs. It’s also white, but comes in a tape-like shape, hence the name. These nasty worms can grow to 60cm in length if left undisturbed, live in the intestine and can also be passed to humans. It’s not something that you want to deal with, so make sure you treat your pet for tapeworm every few months.
Tapeworms distribute their eggs with faeces, but also shed segments of their own bodies at the same time. These look like flat grains or rice and can sometimes be seen on an animal’s fur. Your pet could also be infected from a flea that has been infected with tapeworm larvae, so it’s essential that you control these nasty pests too. The treatment for tapeworm is usually the same as for ringworm and can be given at the same time. Again, ask your vet for a suitable treatment and application advice.
The most common type of flea infests cats, but cat fleas are also common in dogs, and they can attack humans too. You’ll know if they have by the tiny hard bites and constant itching. You might even see the little fleas and their eggs.
Fleas also love to lurk in warm carpets, upholstery and bedding so you really need a two-pronged approach to treat them.
If you’re going to treat pets, then make sure your home is flea-free first. Give it a thorough vacuum with a residual insecticide – you should be able to get this from your vet and it usually gives protection for six months.
Then treat your cat or dog before letting them into the clean environment. Your vet should also be able to provide you with special shampoos and sprays, but many pet owners are now greatly benefiting from a treatment that is applied straight to the animal’s skin on the back of the neck to prevent licking.
Ticks and mites
Pet owners often notice ticks only when they’ve attached themselves to their pets and started to feed. They look like small, grey peas and you’ll need a special tool from your vet to remove them.
This should pull the tick out in one piece – if any is left in, it can still aggravate your pet. Ticks are most active between April and October, so check your pets more carefully during this time.
Mites are also nasty creatures, and can cause mange in your pet, including scabies. According to No More Pests, 90 per cent of cats are said to suffer with ear mites at some stage in their lives, with kittens and young cats being the most susceptible.
You might notice this if your cat is holding its ear flat, shaking its head and scratching uncontrollably. In this case, a trip to the vet with your pet is a must, as these pests need professional attention.