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Pet Advice Categories

Dogs are at risk of contracting parasites as they are ever-present in our environment, but you can keep your pet safe by regularly providing them with tick, flea and worm treatment.

Fleas are small wingless insects that can cause problems for dogs by biting them. This can cause our pets to be very itchy and in some cases, animals are allergic to the saliva in the flea bite and the reaction is more severe - this is known as Flea Allergic Dermatitis.

A flea can bite up to 400 times a day- which can obviously cause very serious irritation. Fleas can also transmit diseases like tapeworm and Bartonella when they bite, therefore making protecting your pet against them very important.

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Ticks in Dogs

Ticks are related to spiders and have eight legs. There are several different tick species, and they vary in size from about 1mm to 1cm long. As they feed on your dog’s blood, they swell and become more obvious to see. They are common in grasslands and woodlands but can also be found in domestic gardens. They are in all areas of the United Kingdom.

You are most likely to come across ticks during the spring and autumn seasons, but they are active throughout the year. Unlike many other parasites, ticks do not fly or jump but climb or drop onto your dog's coat when they enter their habitat, especially in the long grass. Once on your dog, they screw themselves into the skin and feed on blood.

Ticks can irritate your dog and spread microbes that cause diseases such as Lyme disease and the potential for other diseases more prevalent in Europe. As a dog owner, it is good to use a tick treatment to either repel ticks or neutralise them. Tablets, spot-on treatments and collars are available to help fight ticks, and it is best to consult your vet about which is most suitable for your pet.

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Fleas in Dogs

Fleas are small, dark-brown insects that are prevalent across the United Kingdom. Fleas on dogs are more than just a summer problem as they can survive and bother your pet all year-round.

Dogs typically get infested with fleas through contact with other animals or fleas in their environment. This insect's robust back legs enable it to jump from a host or the surrounding environment onto your dog.

Fleas will make your pet uncomfortable and itchy; they can also pose a profoundly serious health risk. Severe flea infestations can cause anaemia due to blood loss caused by the parasites, and it can be fatal to puppies or immunocompromised dogs. Don't forget fleas feed on people too, and a flea infestation can easily get into your home.

There are numerous flea treatments on the market which provide year-round prevention. It is best to consult your vet to find the safest, most effective and most sustainable product for your dog. Spot on treatments and medication in tablets and injections are the preferred long-term flea control methods. Some products attack adult fleas, while others work by interrupting flea development – and some newer products on the market do both!

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Worms in Dogs: Lungworm, Roundworm & Tapeworm

The thought of worms in our canine friends can be very unpleasant and some of them can also be a risk to children and adults. However, understanding prevention options for worms in dogs is an integral part of responsible dog ownership.

Every dog is at risk for worms, no matter where they live or how much time they spend outside. There are three types of worms we worry about – roundworms, tapeworms and lungworms. Worms are usually transmitted through the faecal-oral method. That means that your pet may have come across microscopic parasitic eggs that are present in faecal material. Some worms, such as tapeworms, are transmitted via fleas. The parasite lives inside the flea, so when a dog accidentally eats fleas, they become infected. Some tapeworms can be transmitted when a dog eats raw meat.

Lungworm is spread via foxes, slugs and snails and is a potentially fatal parasite for dogs. Within 50 miles of our practices, there have been 1278 reported cases of lungworm*.

Lungworm Advice for Dog Owners

Lungworm is a potentially serious and sometimes fatal condition that affects dogs. At Maven Vets, we urge dog owners to be aware of the signs of lungworm and to take steps to prevent this infection.

Lungworm is caused by a parasitic worm that resides in the heart and lungs of dogs. The infection can be caught after the ingestion of slugs, snails, or frogs carrying the larvae of the lungworm, and is more common in dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors.

The early signs of lungworm in dogs can be subtle and may be overlooked or mistaken for other conditions. These signs can include coughing, breathing difficulties, reduced appetite, weight loss and lethargy. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog or suspect a lungworm infection, seek veterinary advice immediately.

Treatment of lungworm usually involves medications that are designed to kill the worms and reduce the inflammation and damage in the lungs. In some cases, dogs may need to be hospitalized for supportive care.

To help prevent lungworm infection, we recommend the following tips:

  1. Minimise your dog's exposure to snails, slugs and frogs.
  2. Clean your dog's water bowl regularly and avoid letting them drink from puddles or other outdoor water sources.
  3. Consider using a monthly preventative treatment that protects against lungworm.
  4. Regularly deworm your dog according to your vet's advice.

By following these tips and seeking prompt veterinary care if you suspect your dog has lungworm, you can help keep your furry friend healthy and happy.

Spread the Cost of Parasite Prevention With Pet Health for Life

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Our Pet Health for Life Plan is a great way to spread the cost and save on your pet’s routine healthcare. You will receive all the essential treatments to keep your dog free from ticks, fleas and worms alongside routine checks which keep your dog in the best possible health and helps them lead happier lives.

Click here to find out more and to sign up online

Lungworm FAQs

What are the signs of lungworm in dogs?

Lungworm in dogs is a parasitic infection that can cause a range of symptoms. The signs of lungworm can vary depending on the severity of the infection, the age and health of the dog, and other factors. Here are some of the common signs of lungworm in dogs:

  1. Coughing - this is one of the most common signs of lungworm infection in dogs. The cough may be persistent and can sometimes be accompanied by phlegm or blood.
  2. Breathing difficulties - lungworm can cause breathing difficulties, including shortness of breath and wheezing.
  3. Decreased appetite - dogs with lungworm may show a decreased appetite and a general lack of interest in food.
  4. Weight loss - if the lungworm infection is severe, the dog may begin to lose weight rapidly.
  5. Lethargy - dogs with lungworm may show a lack of energy and interest in exercise or play.
  6. Vomiting - in some cases, lungworm infection can cause dogs to vomit.
  7. Changes in behaviour - dogs with lungworm may exhibit changes in behaviour, such as restlessness, agitation, or depression.

If you suspect that your dog may have lungworm, it is important to take them to see your vet as soon as possible. Lungworm can be a serious and potentially life-threatening condition, but it can be successfully treated if caught early.

How do dogs get lungworm?

Dogs can get lungworm by ingesting snails, slugs or frogs infected with lungworm larvae. This can happen when dogs accidentally eat these creatures, drink contaminated water or eat grass that has come into contact with infected snails or slugs. Lungworm infection is more common in dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors. Preventive measures include avoiding contact with snails and slugs, providing clean drinking water and regular deworming.

Can a dog recover from lungworm?

Yes, with appropriate treatment, dogs can recover from lungworm. Treatment usually involves medication to kill the worms and supportive care. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for a successful recovery. Preventative measures, such as regular deworming and minimising exposure to snails and slugs, can also help to reduce the risk of lungworm infection.

What are the first signs of lungworm in dogs?

The first signs of lungworm in dogs can include coughing, difficulty breathing, reduced appetite, weight loss and lethargy. If you notice any of these symptoms or suspect a lungworm infection, it is important to seek veterinary advice immediately for prompt diagnosis and treatment.

How quickly does lungworm take to develop?

The time it takes for lungworm to develop in a dog can vary depending on several factors, including the dog's age, immune system and the severity of the infection. In general, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months for a dog to develop symptoms of lungworm after being infected with the parasite. However, some dogs may not show any symptoms at all, making it difficult to know if they have been infected. If you suspect that your dog may have been exposed to lungworm, it is important to speak to your vet and have your dog tested for the parasite to ensure prompt diagnosis and treatment if necessary.

*Source: My Pet and I, March 2023

Frequently Asked Questions

How can my dog get fleas?

Dogs can pick up fleas from the environment and from other pets- dogs, cats and rabbits. Fleas spend their adult lives living on our pets, but the full life cycle involves more time off the pet than on them- which is why dogs can easily pick up fleas from the environment when they are out and about.

The adults jump on to our pets, bite and then lay their eggs (40-50 per day). The eggs fall off the fur and onto the surfaces that the animals are in- that means they fall off in the park and also into our houses and into the carpet, bedding and any cracks and crevices on the floor. It is commonly misunderstood that fleas can’t live in houses with wooden floors, but as the eggs are microscopic and sticky, they are designed very cleverly and can still cause infestations even in houses without carpets! The eggs will pupate into larvae which feed on debris and then these in turn into live adult fleas.

These adult fleas then jump onto passing pets in their environment- infecting animals within the home or new animals passing by in the park. Therefore, the cycle continues. A full flea life cycle takes 3 weeks.

How will I know if my dog has fleas?

Sometimes you may see a live flea on your dog- but they are very fast so can be hard to spot. They often prefer to live on the dog's back and near its tail, so these are places to take extra care to check.

Often, we do not see the actual flea itself but see flea dirt which is excreted dog's blood. It looks like black dirt in the fur, but if rubbed with a damp bit of cotton wool you can see the redness of the blood, which helps to determine it from simply dirt from the garden.

Sometimes the first thing that you can notice is the effects of fleas on your dog- they might be rubbing, scratching or chewing their skin. Sometimes the skin looks inflamed (red) and in severe cases the skin can be traumatised and become scabby and even bald.

My dog has fleas; How do I get rid of them?

There are two main points for treating your dog- treating the pet with an effective product and treating the environment to prevent re-infestation.

We recommend using a recommended flea treatment that not only kills fleas on the animal and larvae in the environment, but also that prevents fleas biting- before they can cause skin irritation and pass on disease. Using a licensed product monthly also means that any eggs that have survived and grown into adult fleas in the environment cannot then re-infest your animal. To provide full protection it is important to continue to use the preventative product at the correct intervals. There are lots of options for products you can buy- not all of which are proven to be effective. Please call us to speak to a member of staff for which product would best suit your pet. If one pet in the household has fleas, it is important that all pets (dogs, cats and rabbits) are also treated with a licensed product for their species.

If your pet has been affected by fleas it is also very important to decontaminate the environment and kill any developing larvae. Placing damp towels on your radiators and turning on the heating creates a warm damp environment which encourages larvae to migrate to the surface of your carpets. It is important to then vacuum your house thoroughly. Washing bedding (your pets and your own if animals sleep or climb on your bed), and any other soft furnishings that pets may get on, at a high heat (taking care not to shrink anything) can kill larvae in them. Any extremely contaminated bedding should be disposed of. Using recommended licensed sprays, which we can provide you, to spray on carpets and floors will then kill any larvae or fleas still in the environment. This cycle of hoovering, cleaning and using household sprays may have to be repeated several times, as it is the eggs which are particularly resilient in the environment- so some may survive and new larvae and therefore fleas will appear.

Your vacuum should be emptied after use and, if a bag-less type of vacuum, should also be sprayed with the environment spray to prevent your vacuum becoming a source of infection.

Please do not hesitate to give us a call if you need any more advice on treating and preventing fleas on your pets.

What problems can fleas cause?

Some dogs are only mildly affected by fleas and they can cause irritation and itchiness to the skin. However, if left untreated the infestation of fleas can build up and the effects become more severe as your dog is being bitten by more fleas.

In some cases, dogs are allergic to the flea saliva and can have a severe reaction even if only bitten by one flea. This is known as Flea Allergic Dermatitis (FAD) and the skin can become very inflamed, scabby and even bald where the dog tries to rub and scratch.

Fleas also transmit some diseases like tapeworm and also Bartonella.

Fleas can also bite human’s ad cause an irritation and itchiness to the skin, however they will not live and stay on humans.

What prevention is available to prevent fleas on my dog?

It is far nicer for our dogs, as well as more cost effective for owners, to prevent flea infestations rather than treat them once they are already established.

There are many licensed products to treat fleas in dogs and it can be hard to know which treatment is best. Most products come as a spot on that is placed on the back of the neck; there are also flea collars and flea tablets that can be used. However, not all treatments that you can buy are effective, which is why we ensure that we only recommend licensed products that have been shown to effectively treat your animal.

We also recommend treatments which prevent fleas from biting, not products just that kill once they have bitten- to prevent signs of FAD, or transmission of any diseases.

For advice on what product may best suit your dog, please call us to speak to one of our Qualified Veterinary Nurses.

Membership of our Healthcare Club also ensures prevention against fleas as part of your dog's preventative healthcare plan.


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