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Pesky Parasites – Mites and your pet

Did you know there are different species of mites?

  1. Ear Mites – otherwise known as Otodectes cynotis live within our pet’s ears and can cause itching and ear infections. These mites are visible to the human eye as tiny white dots. Signs that your pet may have ears mites can include itching, dark wax in the ear and head shaking. Another ear mites that cats can have is called Notoedres, which is intensely itching for our feline friends.
  2. Sarcoptic mange – Scabies is caused by Sarcoptic scabei and are highly contagious to other animals through direct contact with an infected animal or by sharing contaminated items. Once an animal is infected they will burrow into the top layer of skin and therefore cannot be removed by brushing or bathing. Animals who are infested with these mites may show signs of itching, biting and licking at the infected areas.
  3. Demodectic mange – Demodex lives within the hair follicles of our pets and rarely spreads from us or other dogs. Most animals will become infected during their first few days of life from their mum via their mum’s muzzle. Demodex can cause skin reddening, hair loss, bacterial and fungal infections and itchiness.
  4. Harvest Mites – otherwise known as Neotrombicula autumnalis tend to be seen within the autumn months and live within rural areas. Our pets can easily pick these pesky parasites up on their wanders. They are visible to the human eye and appear as small red/bright orange dots and tend to be seen in areas such as ears, head, feet or belly. Some animals may not be affected by harvest mites, however other pets may show signs of being itchy and scratching/biting at these areas.
  5. Cheyletiella – this mite can sometimes be described as walking dandruff and normally seen in long haired cats or rabbits. These case will normally present with mild or absent signs and normally owners will notice excessive dandruff on their pets.
  6. If you have any questions regarding your pet’s parasitic prevention, please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss with one of our Registered Veterinary Nurses.
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Pesky Parasites – Endoparasites and your dog

The most common endoparasites that dogs can be susceptible to are also roundworms and tapeworms. Your pet may not show signs of infection with mild burdens, however with heavy burdens they may experience weight loss, vomiting, diarrhoea and failure to thrive.

Some of these worms can cause infections in humans and we advise it is important to regular treat your dog to prevent these parasites.

Roundworms
There are two common roundworms in dogs Toxocara canis and Toxascaris leonina. Eggs are passed in the faeces and are able to remain viable in the environment for several years. Infection to other animals may either be through ingestion of eggs from contaminated ground or ingestion of an intermediate host (e.g. mouse or bird) that are infected. Toxocara canis can also be passed from mother to the puppies via the placenta or milk, the worms will migrate through the tissues including the liver and lungs before entering the intestines where it will become an adult worm.

Hookworms
Hookworms (Ancylostoma Caninum) are more common within other countries throughout the world. These worms are able to hatch into larvae on the ground and penetrate skin on contact. They can also be passed onto the puppy via the placenta or milk from the mother. They can cause signs of emaciation, blood loss, diarrhoea, dehydration and failure to thrive. Uncinaria Stenocephala is also a hookworm associated with dogs but it causes less clinical disease.

Tapeworms
These tapeworms will tend to be referred to a resembling a ‘grain of rice’. Tapeworms are long flat worms consisting of many segments and mature segment holding eggs will be released from the end of the tapeworm and passed in the faeces. These ‘grains of rice’ may be visible around the animal’s anus, in the faeces or on the pet’s bed. Dipylidium caninum has an intermediate host of the flea and your cat could become infected through the ingestion on a flea. Taenia is morely commmonly seen in cats but dogs can also become infected through the ingestion of an infected intermediate host such as a mouse or bird.

Whipworm
Adult Whipworm (Trichuris vulpis) live within the large intestine and will attach to the gut wall by burrowing their heads into the gut lining. They can reach up to 2-3 inches in length and dogs become infected by ingesting the egg stage of the lifecycle. Older dogs are more at risk of having a whipworm burden. Signs of a burden may include bloody diarrhoea, anaemia, dehydration and tiredness. By keeping up with regular worming and cleaning up after your dog you will minimise the risk of exposure.

Heartworm
Heartworms (Dirofilaria) are associated more with dogs that travel abroad. They are transmitted by mosquitos and are very thin, thread-worms reaching up to around 30cm long. Symptoms of infection can vary from mild signs such as an occasional cough, coughing more regularly when exercising; to more severe signs as losing weight, laboured breathing, finding exercise difficult, and most can develop caval syndrome where the sheer number of worms can block the flow of blood into the heart.

Our general advice regarding worming of your dog, is that puppies should be wormed every 2 weeks from 3 weeks of age until 8 weeks, then it is recommended to treat monthly until 6 months of age. After 6 months, worming will depend on certain factors such as outdoor access, scavenging, and the presence of children or other vulnerable people with the household. These individuals should be treated more regularly as they will be classed as a higher risk and it is also advised to use a product to treat against fleas to minimise the risk of tapeworm.
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Peaky Parasites – Angiostrongylus Vasorum (Lungworm)

WHAT IS LUNGWORM?

Lungworm otherwise known as Angiostrongylus Vasorum in dogs, and Aelurpstrongylus Abstrusus in cats. This parasite resides in the heart and pulmonary arteries and can therefore be fatal. There has been an increase in recorded canine Lungworm cases, but it is still less common than other dog parasites such as flea, ticks and worms. Feline lungworm cases are currently rare, but more cases are confirmed each year.

HOW CAN YOUR PET GET LUNGWORM?

Dogs become infected by this parasite through the ingestion of infected slugs and snails. You may not necessary see your pet ingest any slugs or snails, as they may do it accidently when eating grass or drinking from outdoor water bowls. Cats who hunt birds and rodents will be at a higher risk of ingesting this parasite.

HOW CAN IT BE DIAGNOSED?

Lungworm can be diagnosed by:
  • Blood test
  • Faecal test
  • X-ray
  • Bronchoscopy

HOW WILL YOUR PET BE AFFECTED BY LUNGWORM?

Canine symptoms can vary between cases, the most common signs are: coughing, lethargy, weight loss, poor appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, excess bleeding from minor wounds and seizures.
Felines may never show signs that they are affected by Lungworm, however if symptoms do occur they can include coughing, difficulty breathing and poor body condition.

WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR LUNGWORM?

Treatment is available for Lungworm cases in the form of a monthly prescription only treatment, which kills the L4 Lungworm larvae as well as other intestinal worms and fleas. However, in severe cases, this condition may be hard to treat.

PREVENTION IS KEY with Lungworm.

Here are some tips to help
  • Pick up the poop – Lungworm larvae is passed out in your pets faeces and therefore picking up after our pets prevents spread of the parasites
  • Pick up their toys – toys that left outdoors will be exposed to slugs and snails, increasing the risk of parasite spread
  • Don’t leave their food and water bowls outside – these will be exposed to slugs and snails increasing risk to your pet.
  • Monthly prescription only worming treatment will protect your pet against Lungworm and reduce its spread. Not all spot on treatments treat against Lungworm, so please contact us for advice. Unfortunately at present, there is no licensed preventive treatment for cat lungworm. Lungworm prevention for dog is included in our Pet Health Care plans.
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Pesky Parasites – Ticks

TICKS are commonly found in long grass, and attach themselves to your pet as they brush passed. They are eight legged and are composed of two body sections. Their highly developed mouthparts allow them to pierce a pet’s skin and feed on the animal’s blood, sometimes causing reactions at the site of attachment. Severe infestations can lead to anaemia in young animals. Ticks are associated with Lyme Disease, Babesiosis and Ehrlichiosis.

HOW TO HELP YOUR PET AGAINST TICKS?
Prevent Ticks by using a prescription tick product as directed by the manufacturer or your veterinary surgeon. Products can be in a variety of forms such as collars, tablets or spot on treatments. Protection against Ticks is now included within our Pet Health Plan, find out more here.

If you have any questions about these parasites or prevention, our staff would be happy to help.
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Pesky Parasites – Fleas

FLEAS are a small, wingless insects, just a few millimetres long with hind legs modified for jumping. The majority of the flea life cycle will occur off the animal, but can easily occur in the home. The fleas lay their eggs on the animal, which then fall off into the environment (e.g. onto bedding or carpets). Only 5% of the flea population is actually on the animal, the remaining 95% is in the environment in form of eggs, larvae and pupae.

HOW IS YOUR PET AFFECTED?
Fleas will bite cats, dogs, rabbits and even humans. You may notice your pet is scratching, licking or biting a lot, has unusual red patches of skin, signs of hair loss or flea dirt. Flea dirt looks like tiny black dots and can be identified by a simple quick test:
  • Take a piece of paper towel and dampen
  • Rub gently on your pets fur where you suspect there is flea dirt
  • If the black dots change to a reddish-brown colour – FLEAS ARE PRESENT!
Some animals may suffer from flea allergic dermatitis (FAD), which is irritation of the skin directly related to the presence of fleas, and a strict flea prevention routine should be followed to alleviate the symptoms.

HOW TO HELP YOUR PET AGAINST FLEAS?
Treat your pet with a prescription flea product as directed by the manufacturer or your veterinary surgeon. These can be in a variety of forms, such as spot-ons, collars or tablets. Speak to our staff about our Pet Health Care plans to make sure your pet gets the best prevention at the most affordable prices or find out more here. With a heavy infestation of fleas, don’t forget to treat the environment as well. Remember those fleas can live in bedding, sofas, beds, carpets, car, etc. so it’s just as important to treat the home as it is the pet!
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