Protect your pet from parasites

Here are 5 things you need to know about parasites. Our vets explain what parasites to watch out for and how to keep your best friend protected…

1. Ask your vet, we are here to help!

Australia is home to some nasty critters, and local knowledge is key. Chat to your local vet team to learn about the parasites that are common in your area. We understand that choosing the right parasite prevention product can be challenging. 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.

2. Paralysis Ticks

Paralysis ticks are small parasites that are found along the East Coast of Australia. Paralysis ticks attach to pets and inject a toxin that causes progressive muscle paralysis, this can be fatal. Sadly many dogs and cats tragically die from tick paralysis in Australia.

Signs of tick paralysis include wobbly back legs, vomiting, 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 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 such as Simparica Trio!

Vet 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.

3. Heartworm

If you’ve ever had a mosquito buzzing around you in summertime, you know how annoying they can be! Unfortunately for our pets, mozzies can also infect our pets with deadly heartworm disease. 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.

Dogs often show no obvious signs of heartworm infection in the early stages, but damage to the heart and blood vessels is occurring internally. When damage becomes severe, signs such as coughing, lethargy and difficulty exercising are 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 and costly – so prevention is key.

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

A heart with heartworm parasite

4. Fleas

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!

Vet 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

5. 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. Roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms can be transmitted from our pets to human family members.

Vet Tip: Wash your hands! It is important to always follow good hygiene practices around pets. 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

Protect your pet today

Now that you know about the parasites that can harm your pet, start off on the right paw and protect your best friend. Simparica Trio makes it simple to deliver the protection every best friend deserves. One monthly chew provides triple protection for your dog against fleas and ticks, intestinal worms and deadly heartworm disease. Visit your local Greencross Vets clinic to learn more about options to protect your best friend.

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