Fleas, ticks and worms what you should know

As a dog or cat owner, it’s your job to protect your pet from fleas, ticks and worms. These parasites can plague dogs and make their lives miserable.

As a dog or cat owner, it’s your job to protect your pet from fleas, ticks and worms. These parasites can plague dogs and make their lives miserable.As a dog or cat owner, it’s your job to protect your pet from fleas, ticks and worms. These parasites can plague dogs and make their lives miserable.


Fleas are tenacious parasites, which mostly live in the environment; only 5% tend to live on your pet. There are a number of things you need to do in order to reduce fleas in your environment.

At some point in their life almost every dog or cat will become infected with fleas. The flea season generally lasts until April. However, fleas can still be an all year round issue, especially with centrally heated homes allowing them to breed all year round.

Fleas feed on blood, either from our pets or us to survive. Especially in young kittens and puppies this can be distressing and at times even life threatening.

Fleas are small and not always easy to detect. If infestation is heavy, you can generally spot them on the coat under close inspection. Often you will see brown/black specks on the pets coat called “flea dirt”, this is dried blood, which has been extracted by the flea.

Comb through your pets coat onto a wet piece of paper. If the specks are red/brown, you pet has fleas. If you are unsure if your pet has fleas, bring them into our veterinary centre for an inspection.

The best way to treat fleas can be complicated but will usually involve using a regular spot-on or tablet to kill adult fleas and an environmental spray to deal with the immature stages of the flea lifecycle. There are now excellent products available from us which cause no marks on the coat and are not washed off by bathing/swimming.  Our Vets can advise you on the right products to give your pet protection against fleas.


Ticks can latch onto any area of exposed skin, they generally however tend to go for the least hairy areas. They look for areas where there is good blood supply, areas ticks tend to latch onto are the face, neck, under belly and inside of the legs. After walking your dog especially if they have been in the long grass especially in humid or damp environments such as woods. It is best to check them over for the potential of ticks.

Prevention of ticks

Regular preventative treatments should be used on your pets regularly. They don’t stop ticks from attaching but they will generally kill them within 48 hours. .We recommend tablets which kill ticks within 12 hours. They are much more effective than the spot-on products and are not toxic to cats when applied to dogs multi-animal households.

The best way to remove a tick

There are various ways of removing a tick from your pet safely. The safest and most effective way is by means of a tool called a “tick twister”. This is a small plastic picks with a claw-shaped head, the head slots between the body of the tick and your pet, this gives you the leverage to twist the tick harmlessly out of your pets skin in one piece. You can buy one of these at our Veterinary Centre in Washington. There a great tool, to keep handy,

After the tick has been removed, it is vital to ensure that the whole tick has gone. Don’t allow the head end to break off and leave the rest of the body embedded under the skin. If you find this has happened bring them to our Veterinary centre as soon as possible.

Once the tick is removed, give your pets skin a wash and wipe over with a topical antiseptic. You should keep an eye on the affected area for a couple of days, ensuring it does not become irritated or inflamed.

Although it is quite rare, ticks can transmit Lyme disease to either your pet or yourself. It is best to be aware of these potential symptoms of Lyme disease. Symptoms include, loss of appetite, lameness, general lethargy and depression. If you have any concerns regarding this give us a call immediately.


Worms, prevention and treatment

Worms can come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. Your dog at sometime in their life will suffer from worms most probably. Worms cannot only affect your dog’s life and that of other dogs but humans too.

There are two main categories of worms that affect dogs. These are roundworms and tapeworms.


Roundworms are the most common found inside a dog. Almost all dogs at some point in their lives will be infected by them, usually when puppies. Roundworms can be contracted in various ways, which can make them easier to spread and much harder to control.

A dog can be infected with roundworms from birth as the mother can pass the worms to the puppy whilst it is in her body.

Adult roundworms live in the affected dogs intestines. Dogs may not always show signs of infection, however with major roundworm infections especially in puppies, signs will generally include, diarrhoea, vomiting, weight loss, dull hair, or a potbellied appearance. If the roundworms get into the lungs, the dog may develop a cough also. Sometimes in adult roundworms you can notice them in the dog’s faeces or vomit. Generally they appear white or light brown in colour and are several inches long.

We offer various treatments for the prevention of roundworm; we can discuss the most appropriate with you for your dog.


Tapeworms are long, flat worms which attach to your dog’s or cat’s intestines. A tapeworm consists of multiple parts or segments each of these have their own reproductive organs. Infections from tapeworms are generally diagnosed by finding small white worms that look like seeds or grains of rice. These are normally found on the rear end of your dog, in its faeces or around the place it lives and sleeps.

Dogs who have tapeworm infections are not normally sick and don’t loose weight.

To prevent infections from tapeworms such as Taenia and Dipylidium, a monthly heat worm preventative drug should be used which is specific for infections from tapeworms.


Lungworms can cause potentially fatal bleeding and severe respiratory issues. Your pet can be infected with lungworm typically from eating slugs or snails, or drinking from water that slugs or snails have been pesent in. The north of England is not presently a lungworm “hot-spot” but infections are common in dogs from the South-West, South Wales and London, and are reported from many places in the UK. You can check areas you may visit on the map

Other Types ...

Other types of worms that dogs can get are heartworms, hookworms, and whipworms.

Kittens and puppies should be wormed at 2,5 and 8 weeks of age. Then monthly till they are 6 months old.

Adult cats and dogs should be wormed every 3 months, however cats, which are out hunting, should be wormed more frequently.

Pregnant cats should be wormed around the time of giving birth to prevent transfer of worms via the milk to their kittens.

Pregnant dogs can be wormed daily from day 40 of pregnancy till 2 days after whelping to minimise transmission to the puppies before birth.

Please ask any of our team for advise on preventative treatments best suited for your situation. If you think your pet has come into contact with fleas, ticks or worms arrange an appointment with one of our Vets.

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