Parasites such as worms, ticks, and fleas may be tiny and seemingly insignificant, but how they affect an animal’s body certainly isn’t something to be ignored. Not only can parasites make your dog or cat sick, but in some cases, these can also alter the pet’s behaviour. Their presence can even be fatal to some animals in dire situations.
To make matters worse, some pests can also jump from one species to another, meaning they could also affect humans. When that happens, the parasites could affect your health and well-being, as well as those of anyone else living in your home. Left untreated, your home will be overrun with these minuscule creatures in no time.
But there is hope. By acting immediately and following the tips here, you can keep your home environment free of these destructive pests.
Depending on your lifestyle and your pet’s routine, your pet may be more prone to becoming infected with some pests, but not others. By going through this list before you run to the nearest dog and cat supplies store, you can gain a better idea of which treatments you need to prioritise today.
Much like kids, puppies and kittens must get crucial vaccinations once they reach a certain age. Vaccines fall under one of two categories: core and non-core. Core vaccines are essential for all types of pets, while non-core types are recommended for pets in certain situations (e.g., outdoor pets, animals regularly placed in pet boarding facilities).
Some of the more common vaccines are used to treat parvovirus, rabies, coronavirus, Lyme disease, parainfluenza, and leptospira, among others. A trip to your local veterinarian can determine which vaccinations are necessary.
In unvaccinated puppies, the veterinarian may recommend a five-way or seven-way vaccine which would include protection against some of these viruses and other diseases.
Unlike in the case of fleas or ticks where you can see the pests moving around on an animal’s body, worms breed, multiply and attack the internal organs. Hookworms, whipworms, tapeworms, and roundworms are some of the worst parasites a pet can get. Once their numbers increase, they could cause your pet to lose weight, develop anemia, experience diarrhea, or find blood in the stool.
Transmissions can occur when your pets are exposed to infected animals or, in the case of tapeworms, by getting bitten by infected fleas. Annual treatments are necessary, especially if your pet loves spending time outdoors.
Follow-up treatments may also be needed, especially if your dog or cat has been infected. The follow-up treatment is designed to kill any remaining larvae that may still be living inside the body. It is important to note that the parasites can jump species, so proper hygiene is critical for everyone in your household, especially when taking care of your sick pet.
Like mosquitoes do to humans, ticks and fleas pester animals and are notorious carriers of diseases. Ticks, in particular, can carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and ehrlichiosis. Not only can these parasites affect your pet’s health, but they can also bite and make you and your family sick.
Dogs and cats can easily pick up fleas or ticks whenever they go anywhere outside the home. Bushy, wooded spaces are prime spots for ticks. Being around other animals inside a kennel or even while taking a walk and playing with their favourite dog toys around the park can open opportunities for your pets to unwittingly bring these pests inside your home.
Completely eliminating these pests is not possible, but you can make your pets seem less desirable. There are tablets and shots you can administer to keep the pests away. If medicines are not a viable option, special collars and drops are also available.
In the case of an infestation, you can eradicate the pests by washing all bedding and clothes that have come into contact with your dog or cat. Clean and disinfect the interiors and spray outdoor areas with specially designed tick and flea products. Some products may contain strong but harmful chemicals, so check the label and instructions to prevent harm to your health and that of the people living with you.
Mites in the ears may not be detrimental to your pet’s health, but they can cause mild to severe discomfort. The insects can be quickly picked up while you are taking your pets out for a walk if your pets prefer the outdoors. There is no way of preventing your cat or dog from getting mites, but you can prevent them from multiplying.
Clean your dog or cat’s ears regularly. Topical medications are also available to relieve some of the itching and rashes. You can ask your vet for follow-up treatment recommendations to ensure the mites are completely terminated.
Pests and parasites may be everywhere, but there are ways of keeping them away from your pets. Most conditions can be treated when detected early. Schedule a routine check-up of your pets at your local vet clinic to ensure that everything is in order and to maintain your pets’ good health.
Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a Bsc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear and Rogz.