How Do I Prevent Fleas, Ticks And Heartworm?

Small parasites can lead to big problems for your pet that are difficult to treat. So, when it comes to fleas, ticks, worms and heartworm, it’s important to prevent them altogether. Here are our top tips to keep your best friend protected this Spring!

Before we start…

Before we dive into the world of pet parasites, we want you to know that we are here to help! We understand that choosing the right parasite prevention product can be overwhelming at times. The good news is that there are lots of options to choose from and our friendly team are here to help you choose the right product for your pet and lifestyle. Contact your local Greencross Vets today for advice.

OK, let’s get started!


If your pet is itching and scratching, they may have fleas! Fleas are small, brown parasitic insects that infest the coat and skin of your pet. Fleas cause itchiness and skin irritation, many dogs are also highly allergic to flea bites. Fleas can also cause tapeworm infections and in severe cases, anaemia, especially in puppies and kittens.

Fleas breed rapidly, especially in warmer weather. Their lifecycle consists of dormant stages so it’s important to treat all year round. Did you know – a single flea can lay up to 50 eggs, so one flea can turn into 20,000 fleas in just 60 days!

Spring Tip: The best way to get rid of fleas is to prevent them in the first place! If your pet already has fleas, you’ll need to treat your pets and home to eradicate all stages of the flea lifecycle. Chat to your local Greencross Vets about the right product for your best friend, and give your pet that fabulous flea-free feeling!

Flea lifecycle diagram

Paralysis Ticks

Paralysis ticks are small, round parasites that are found along the Eastern sea-board of Australia. Paralysis ticks attach to pets and inject a toxin that causes progressive muscle paralysis, this can be fatal. Sadly in Australia, many dogs and cats tragically die from tick paralysis. Contact your local Greencross Vets to learn if ticks are found in your area.

Signs of tick paralysis include wobbly back legs, lethargy or collapse, difficulty breathing, trouble swallowing or a change in their bark or meow. If you find a tick on your pet it is an emergency, contact your vet immediately for advice. If your regular vet is closed, contact an after-hours emergency vet.

It’s very important to use a tick prevention product to protect your dog or cat. Yes, cats are also susceptible to the paralysis tick and there are treatments also available as there are for dogs. Some tick treatments designed for dogs may be harmful to cats, so always read the label carefully. There are a variety of products available including tasty chews that dogs love!

Spring Tip: Learn how to do a ‘tick search’ on your pet! No treatments are 100% effective so it’s important to conduct a thorough daily tick search of your pet. To learn how to search your pet for ticks, ask your local Greencross Vets to show you how.


Heartworm is a parasite that is transmitted by mosquitoes and infects both cats and dogs. As heartworm is carried by mosquitoes, there are certain geographical areas they are more prone than others. The parasite matures for approximately six months, becomes a worm, and then migrates to the heart and the blood vessels of the lungs. Heartworms live in the heart and physically damage the muscle, clogging the vessels leading from the heart.

For dogs, there are almost no signs of heartworm infection. Cough, lethargy or reduced exercise may be seen. Heartworm in cats is less common – affected cats can cough, be lethargic but can also suddenly pass away.  Not only is heartworm fatal, but treatment for cats and dogs can be complex – so prevention is key.

Spring Tip:  Don’t forget about heartworm prevention, it’s important. There are many options to protect your pet from heartworm: tasty monthly chews, top-spot treatments or the convenience of a yearly heartworm injection. For cats, monthly tablets and top-spot treatments are also available.

A heart with heartworm parasite

Intestinal worms

Heartworm is often confused with intestinal worms, but they are completely different. Gastrointestinal or ‘tummy’ worms include hookworms, roundworms, whipworm and tapeworm. Regular worming is an important part of your pet’s healthcare routine.  Puppies and kittens need to be wormed every two weeks until they’re three months of age, then every month until they reach six months of age, and finally, depending on the product, every three months for the rest of their life.

It’s important to protect your pet from intestinal worms including hookworms, roundworms, whipworm (dogs only), and tapeworm. There are also different types of tapeworms, some which can be dangerous to people. Intestinal worms can be transferred from our pets to human family members.

Spring Tip: Wash your hands! It is important to always follow good hygiene practices around pets. Wash your hands, don’t let your pets lick your face and worm your pets regularly. Chat to your local Greencross Vets to learn more about keeping you and your family safe.

A person giving their pet a treat

It’s easy to give your pet parasite prevention treatments, some are flavoured like a tasty treat!

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