PARASITE PROBLEMS: MORE THAN JUST A SUMMER ISSUE!

As we head towards another winter, there will be plenty of opportunity to enjoy some fantastic magical adventures with our pets. Despite the fun to be had playing in the fallen leaves and snow, there are numerous health problems that are often associated with this season and could be worth keeping aware of. Parasites can affect your pet at any time of the year and knowing the facts about them might be important in spotting and treating them as quickly as possible. We asked our pet health expert to give us the lowdown on parasite problems and why they’re not exclusive to the summer!

What’s the problem

Fleas and ticks are often considered to be a summer problem, when temperatures are generally warm enough to help these parasites survive. However, these types of pet health issue are becoming more common in the winter months, when pets generally spend much more of their time within the confines of a warm home. The environment provided by a centrally heated home could be the ideal place for parasites to survive, meaning that they could still affect your pets all year round.

How do they survive?

 Fleas have trouble surviving in temperatures below 8°C, meaning that the British winter could be an impossible time for fleas to survive. However, the life cycle of a flea is dependent upon the ambient temperature, so if they’re on the body of a host animal or in the warmth of the family home they can survive. Further to this, milder winters in previous years have meant that ticks can survive outside during these months. These are often found in long grass or woodland and are more likely to be carried by dogs.

 What are the signs?

 A common sign that your pet might have fleas could be excessive scratching and licking, which can often lead to areas of hair loss. Fleas could also infect your pet with tapeworm, this could lead to weight loss, weakness, diarrhoea and coarse fur, as well as being present in vomit or faeces. Ticks work slightly differently in that they attach to your pet and grow as they feed from them. These tend to look like a lot like warts and can often be found on your pet’s head, if you spot anything like this then it could be worth getting them treated.

How is it treated?

Treating fleas doesn’t just mean killing the fleas and their eggs on your pet but also removing larvae and adult fleas from the environment. Heading to the vet is recommended, some fleas have developed a resistance to certain products over the years and your vet should be able to suggest appropriate treatment. Regular treatments could help prevent infestations, especially as it could take months to eliminate them. Adult cats and dogs should be wormed around four times a year but your vet can help put a worming programme in place. Finally, if your pet is afflicted by ticks, they need to be removed as soon as possible. You can use a tick twister to make sure that it’s fully removed.

We all want to enjoy our adventures with our pet without the worry of illness but knowing the signs could help you catch it early and get back to enjoying some magical times as soon as possible. It could also be important to remember that, even if your pet looks healthy, they should always receive regular flea and worming treatment. If you ensure that this is done regularly across the year, the risk of encountering a parasite problem could be hugely reduced and you can spend the rest of your time having fun!

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