In Victoria, our pets are at very real risk of infestation with a variety of parasites, ranging from irritating to down-right deadly. Here is a list of some of the parasite bad guys to keep away from your pet;
At the top of the list, fleas are everywhere. They will not discriminate between infesting you, your pet, a possum or a mouse. Their bite causes intense itchiness and very commonly transmits tapeworm – yup, sorry, but they transfer tapeworm to you as well. Flea infestations are notoriously difficult to control because they hide away in linen, garden beds and carpets where they can stay for years waiting for the opportunity to strike.
This is exactly what you’re thinking it is – a worm that lives in your pet’s heart. It’s as nasty as it sounds, it is difficult to treat and is often fatal. What’s more, is that it is transmitted by mosquito bites, so all pet’s are at risk. Fortunately, in Victoria heartworm is relatively uncommon – however, cases are reported every year, it is confirmed in our local fox population and it is common in our warmer states. Giving your pet an annual heartworm injection takes the stress off your shoulders by keeping your pet protected.
Being at the foot of our beautiful mountain ranges – yes, we have ticks. We see them commonly in the clinic. They are usually Bush Ticks which cause irritating bites, and can transmit some blood diseases. However, we very occasionally will see a case of Paralysis Tick bite. This is the nastier tick living in the rural outskirts of Victoria, occasionally travelling inwards. When it bites dogs, it causes paralysis – starting with difficulty walking and ending up with an inability to breathe and ultimately death.
Hookworms and roundworms are mostly spread through poop, but puppies and kittens can be infested in utero and even through mum’s milk! They are spaghetti-like creatures which live in the gut and steal your pet’s nutrition. And yes, these guys can also spread to you and your family.
As we discussed above, fleas can transmit tapeworm to you and your pet. Think about your pet having an itch and chewing on their back – they are often chewing and ingesting fleas, and inside the flea is the tapeworm. Our clients often find out about tapeworm because their pet is having little white ribbons poking out of their bottom – or worse, they have them themselves!
Hydatid tapeworm has serious health consequences – it can migrate through the body – for instance to the liver and brain, and form golf ball-sized cysts. Again, this is transmissible to people. Your pet is at increased risk of hydatid tapeworm if they have access to offal or are fed certain raw food diets.
As well as all of those guys, there’s also mites, lungworm and lice to watch out for! Are you feeling confused, yet? We carry a range of anti-parasitic products in our hospital, and are more than happy to provide advice about the best regime for your pet. It’s often more simple to prevent than most people imagine!