Worms, Ticks and Fleas – how to get rid of them!

It’s one of the less palatable aspects of owning a cat or a dog, they pick up “guests” in the form of fleas, ticks and worms.  In the UK we live in a fairly benign environment where for the most part, parasites are mainly unwelcome pests that sometimes do harm.  However on mainland Europe parasites can be a whole lot worse in terms of the disease they harbour and can pass to cats and dogs.  Sadly in recent years, we’re starting to see a few of these serious diseases on this side of the Channel.

For the most part, parasites may cause a pet’s health to be compromised, this is a good enough reason to get rid of them.  We would like to help you easily prevent a problem rather than have to deal with the consequences, so, there’s no surprise that parasite control is one of the topics we focus on at your pet’s health checks here at Riverside Veterinary Centre.

dog sat in long grass

How does my pet pick up parasites?

They can be picked up everywhere and anywhere.  For some unlucky individuals they can be passed on from their mother’s womb, but for most youngsters, it’s when they venture to the great outdoors.  Both kittens and puppies have quite immature guts, along with inquisitive habits, so it’s a perfect storm to maximise the chances of picking up parasites from the environment.  Puppies, of course, tend to explore with their mouths, so, ingesting soil and poo can be a standard routine for our canine companions.  And if there’s anything dead to scavenge, even better!  Cats of course hunt.  In the last few years, ticks have become a bigger issue.  They’ve always been around but their numbers have increased as a result of wetter and warmer winters.  Whilst pretty horrible to deal with in their own right, ticks also carry the disease organism that can lead to Lyme Disease in us humans.  This is especially an issue in dogs.  Cats can pick up the disease following tick bites too but seem to be less susceptible.  Ticks are adept at hanging on to a pet’s fur as they pass through the undergrowth.  As your pet pushes through long grass or thick wooded vegetation, a tick hooks on to the hair and slowly works down to the skin. Parasites can affect pets at all stages of life, not just the youngsters!  Lyme Disease has hit the headlines in recent months as Matt Dawson, former England Rugby Player and Martine McCutcheon, singer & actress, are amongst the celebrities who have suffered this debilitating condition.


You’ve convinced me, how do I get rid of them?

The key to parasite management is having an easy to use product that doesn’t need to be given so often it defeats us.  Until recently this wasn’t available   Monthly fluid applications on the back of a neck or tablets get forgotten unless you’re extremely organised.  Few products guard against ticks plus fleas.  The introduction of Bravecto has changed all that.  For cats, it’s a dropper applied to the back of the neck just once every 12 weeks.  For dogs, until very recently, Bravecto has been available but only as a tablet that has been regarded as very palatable according to the manufacturers.  However, some disagree.  Thankfully help is on hand for those defiant dogs as Bravecto is also available as a dropper for dogs now in addition to the tablet.  Like the cat version, both dog versions only require repeating every 3 months and protect against fleas and ticks.

Puppy & Kitten

So that’s the outside parasites taken care of, what about those on the inside?

In terms of worms, there are essentially two types, roundworms and tapeworms.  Having a product to deal with both of these is clearly an advantage.  Milbemax is the choice for these internal parasites with prevention being achieved by treating similarly once every 3 months for most.  Since as kittens and puppies have relatively immature systems as mentioned, and particularly on their early explorations to the great outdoors, they are wormed more frequently at monthly intervals until 6 months of age.  At that stage, we review their lifestyle, hunting habits, etc and the majority move to a 3 monthly interval regime.  Other types of worms can be a problem but those cases are rare in this locality.


How will I remember when to treat my pet?

Make sure we have your mobile number to receive text reminders when your pet is due parasitic treatment.


Anything else?

Please just ask the Riverside Team, we’re here to help.  Come and see us or give us a call 01789 299455.  If you’re planning on travelling abroad with your cat or dog, please ask for Hayley, she’s our Pet Travel Consultant.  Parasite treatments can vary depending on where you’re travelling to, plus the length of time you’re going to be away for.  It’s a good opportunity to check your pet’s passport is up to date too.