Tips to keep your pet free of worms, ticks and viruses

Keeping your pet free from parasites and diseases is vital for its health and happiness, and that of your family, particularly small children. Eco-friendly control methods for parasites include chemical-free treatments you can carry out at home and basic household hygiene procedures. Vaccinations are generally recommended to control viral diseases. Discuss this with your vet.

Tips to keep your pet free of worms, ticks and viruses

1. Worms

  • This disease is spread to dogs and cats by mosquitoes, so it's important to eliminate areas of standing water that can serve as breeding grounds.
  • Keep your pets indoors as much as possible during times when mosquitoes are most active – dawn and dusk during spring and summer.

2. Intestinal worms

  • Puppies are particularly prone to worms. When you buy a new pup, be sure to have your vet check it for worms as soon as possible.
  • Make sure children wash their hands after playing in a sandpit or with a pet. They can pick up roundworm larvae from both sources.
  • Fleas are a source of tapeworm infection. If your pet has a flea problem, tackle it first – it will help to prevent tapeworm infestation.
  • Don't let your pet eat rodents. Rats and mice transmit tapeworm.
  • If your pet shows any symptoms (inspect stools too), ask your vet to provide a safe, effective de-worming medicine.
  • Symptoms can include: dull coat, swollen belly, pale gums, licking around the anus, dragging the bottom, vomiting, spaghetti-like eggs in stools.
  • Symptoms of heartworm can include: difficulty breathing when exercising, persistent cough, vomiting, reluctance to move, reduced appetite, weight loss.

3.Ticks

  • Ticks occur in urban areas as well as in the countryside and are an increasing problem. Make sure you check your pet regularly.
  • Seek immediate veterinary help if you sense your pet is in danger. It may have difficulty breathing and be unsteady on its legs.
  • Check for tiny lumps by rubbing gently back and forth through your pet's fur, feeling the whole body. It should take 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the animal's size.
  • Use a tick hook or tweezers to remove a tick. Fingers are the least efficient tool as you are likely to squeeze its body and cause more poison to be injected.
  • Don't worry if the head is left in the skin: it will die and eventually fall out.
  • Symptoms can include: unsteady gait, fever, weakness, muscle aches, loss of appetite.

4. Viruses

  • Most vaccine manufacturers recommend giving dogs and cats a temporary vaccination at six to eight weeks of age, followed by adult or full vaccination at 12 to 14 weeks.
  • Annual boosters are the subject of some controversy, so you should seek advice from your vet or from a holistic practitioner about their necessity for your pet.
  • Viruses include: distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, feline enteritis, feline immunodeficiency virus (AIDS), feline leukemia virus and others.
  • Some symptoms to watch for are: decreased appetite, vomiting, swollen belly, soft or liquid stools, or blood in stools, whining in discomfort.
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