Parasites and your pet

What are parasites?

Parasites are organisms that live and feed off other creatures. For our pets, these are things like fleas, ticks, mosquitos and intestinal parasites, who spend their lives crawling beneath the surface of our pets and causing serious health problems if left undetected.

What are the most common parasites?


Heartworm is a parasitic worm that can infect your pet through a mosquito bite. An infected mosquito injects a larval stage of the worm under your pet’s skin. These larvae mature in the pet’s organs for five to six months, traveling through the organs to the heart and blood vessels of the lungs. These adult worms then breed to produce microfilaria (baby heartworm) in the bloodstream which is drawn up by a mosquito when it feeds on the pet, continuing the cycle once again.

Mosquitos are hard to keep out of both the yard and house, so even your indoor-only pals are at risk.

Paralysis ticks

Paralysis Ticks are small, round-looking parasites that burrow into your pet’s skin to feed and breed. While doing so, the paralysis tick produces a neurotoxin, which is absorbed into the blood and then gradually diffuses into the nervous system, causing progressive flaccid paralysis of all muscles.


Fleas are small brown parasitic insects that infest the coat and skin of your pet. Many people think fleas are just an irritation but, if left untreated, they can be fatal to your pet. They can cause skin disease, tapeworm infection and anaemia in some animals, especially young pets.

Intestinal worms

Dogs and cats can become infected with a range of intestinal worms including; hookworms, roundworms, whipworm, and tapeworm. Intestinal worms from our pets can be transferred to other family members. Children, the elderly, and people who are immunocompromised are at a higher risk.

Treatment and prevention

Treatments can include:

  • annual injections
  • topical applications
  • shampoos and sprays
  • tablets and chews
  • collars

Your local Greencross Vets team are your partners in protecting your pets from parasites.

Together, we can help determine the most suitable product and prevention program that is tailored to your pet’s needs, lifestyle and environment.

Remember that prevention is always the best medicine. Keep your pet happy and healthy all year round by sticking to a good preventative treatment plan. They’ll thank you for it!

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