Dogs are victims of several internal parasites frequently referred to as worms. The most common are the roundworms that infest most puppies at some time in their young lives and tapeworms that can be a big problem when flea infestations are high.
Regular worming is essential to protect your dog against internal parasites. This involves giving it preparations in liquid or tablet form. Adult dogs should be wormed at least once a year, and at least once every six months if in contact with children. Dogs showing any signs of infection should be wormed immediately and all breeding bitches should be wormed prior to mating.
Several worms that infect and reinfect dogs can also infect humans, so treatment and eradication of the worms in the environment are important. Remove dog feces from back yards at least weekly, use appropriate vermicides under veterinary supervision, and have the dog's feces checked frequently in persistent cases. Do not mix wormers and do not use any wormer if your dog is currently taking any other medication, including heartworm preventative, without consulting your Vet.
Several of these parasites affect dogs but the most important are the ones that belong to the Ascarid family, and live in the small intestine. Other roundworms infest the large intestine, blood vessels and respiratory tract.
Ascarids feed on digesting food in the dog's gut, and are particularly harmful to puppies. They penetrate a puppies gut wall and pass via the blood to the liver and then to the lungs. From there they crawl up the trachea to be coughed up and swallowed, again ending up in the gut. Infected puppies may develop :-
Hepatitis, pneumonia, fits, and obstruction to the gut, so regular treatment is vital.
As the puppy gets older most of the worms travel to the muscles, where they form cysts. These lie dormant until the puppy bitch becomes pregnant. They then migrate to the puppies lungs, and this is why virtually every puppy is born with roundworm, and must be wormed regularly.
How Roundworms Affect Humans.
These worms can infect humans, and in a very low number of cases, cause disease. Good hygiene and common sense concerning children and puppies should control the problem.
The tapeworm tickle the dog's anus and make the dog drag it's rear end along the floor. If you see any worm segments in your dog's feces, treat it as soon as possible.
As professional dog breeders, we treat our own pets at least twice a year. Worming tablets can be bought cheaply at your local supermarket or petshop, so there's no excuse for not treating your own pet on a regular basis.
Also an important tip! When walking your dog in a neighborhood or park, remove all feces so that the dog does not contribute to contamination of soil away from home as well.
Dogs that are in generally good condition are not threatened by worm infestations and may not even show symptoms. However, it's a good idea to keep the dog as worm-free as possible so that if disease or stress do take a toll, you're not fighting worms in a sick pet.
Early diagnosis of the presence of intestinal parasite is important, for not all worms respond to the same treatment. Therefore, stool samples should be taken to your veterinarian for microscopic examination if worms are suspected. Many veterinarians include the stool check as part of the annual health examination.
Fleas can be one of the most annoying aspects of owning a pet. Dog fleas and cat fleas can and will bite people as well. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to deal with the problem of fleas - both preventative measures you should take to avoid them and ways to get rid of them once your house is filled up with these unwelcome guests.
Indoor Flea Control
Indoor flea control involves mechanically removing all stages of the fleas, killing any remaining adults, and preventing immature forms from developing.
Start by vacuuming thoroughly, especially below drapes, under furniture edges, and where your pet sleeps. It is estimated that vacuuming can remove up to 50% of flea eggs. Vacuum daily in high traffic areas, weekly in others. Each time, seal your vacuum bag in a plastic bag and discard it immediately. Do NOT place mothballs or flea collars in the vacuum, since toxic fumes could result.
Use a product that will kill any remaining adult fleas and also stop the development of eggs and larvae. You will need a product that contains both an adulticide and an insect growth regulator (IGR), such as Nylar (pyriproxyfen) or methoprene. This can be in the form of carpet powders, or sprays.
Wash your pet's bedding weekly and treat the bed and surrounding area with a product that contains both an adulticide and an insect growth regulator.
Do not forget to also clean and treat your car, pet carrier, garage, basement, or any other place your pet spends much time.
Outdoor Flea Control
Flea control in the outdoor environment generally involves treating the yard and kennel areas where fleas are most likely to occur. Fleas tend to like it where it is moist, warm, shady, and where there is organic debris. They will also tend to be where pets spend more of their outdoor time. So be sure to concentrate on areas such as patios, under porches, dog houses, etc.
Rake away any organic debris such as leaves, straw, grass clippings, etc., to disturb flea habitat and allow any flea and tick product you use outdoors to penetrate.
If you are going to treat your yard, we prefer an environmentally safe spray containing fenvalerate for this purpose. There are also sprays which contain insect growth regulators which can be used. Powder Lime is effective and can easily be spread onto lawns and other garden areas.
You may need to treat the yard every 7 to 21 days depending on the product. Regardless of the product used, remember not to spray when or where runoff could go into lakes or rivers. Read the label on all insecticides thoroughly and apply them as directed.
Now that we've taken care of the fleas in your home and treated the "hot spots" in your yard, it's time to eliminate the fleas that are on your pet. There are a number of flea control products for use on pets, including once-a-month topical products, sprays, dips, shampoos, collars, powders, oral, and injectable products. With any product applied directly to the pet, please remember that you may see some live fleas on your pet for a short time after spraying, shampooing, dipping, etc. In order for the fleas to die, they must come into contact with the insecticide, and absorb it.
Keep in mind that until all of the fleas in your home have died, you will probably still see some fleas, even on a treated pet, since some immature forms may continue to develop. This is especially true if you had a big flea problem to start with. Persistence is the key here. It is essential to keep following an effective flea control program for a long enough time to get rid of all of the fleas, in all life stages. This may take several weeks to 6 months or more, depending on your particular situation.
Flea Control Products
Once-a-month topical insecticides are applied to a small area on your pet's back, are probably the easiest product to use, and generally last the longest. Some kill fleas and ticks, and others just kill fleas, so check the label carefully. Ingredients generally include permethrin, pyrethrin, or fipronil. Examples include Advantage, Advantix, Frontline and Advocate. These products usually contain 3 to 6 treatments per pack.
Flea and tick control sprays can come as aerosols or pump bottles. When using a spray, you do not have to soak the pet with the spray, but be sure to spray all parts of the animal. Spray a small amount on a cotton ball to apply the product around the eyes and ears. Do not get any of these products in the eyes. Follow your veterinarian's and the manufacturer's directions on how often to spray, and spray in a well-ventilated area.
Dips and Rinses
Dips and rinses are applied to the entire animal. They generally have some residual activity. They should be applied in a well-ventilated area according to your veterinarian's and the manufacturer's directions. It is helpful to put cotton balls in the pet's ears and ophthalmic ointment in the pet's eyes. Even with these precautions, be very careful not to get any of the product in the pet's ears or eyes. Dips or rinses may contain pyrethrins, permethrins or organophosphate's. Flea rinse products and Flea Rinse service are available at Hill Top K9 Grooming.
Flea and tick shampoos help to primarily rid the pet of the fleas and ticks that they may have on them, although some have residual activity. To properly use a flea & tick shampoo you must be sure to work the shampoo in over the entire body and then leave it on at least 10 minutes before you rinse it off. Again, remember to protect the eyes and ears of the pet. Shampoos often contain pyrethrins.
Flea & Tick Collars
Flea & Tick Collars can be effective, but must be applied properly. To get the right degree of snugness, you should just be able to get two fingers between the collar and your pet's neck. Be sure to cut off any excess portion of the collar after you have properly applied it. Otherwise, that animal or other pets may try to chew on the end. Check the package for information on duration of effectiveness since some collars lose effectiveness when they get wet, e.g., if your dog swims a lot. Watch carefully for any irritation under the collar. If this occurs, you may need to use a different product.
Oral and Injectable Products
Oral and Injectable Products: Program, a product containing an insect development inhibitor is available as a tablet for dogs and cats and as an injectable for cats. The tablets are given once a month; the injection is given every 6 months. Program does not kill the adult fleas, so if you have fleas, you MUST also use something to kill the adults. Capstar, another oral product, is approved for use in dogs and cats. It will kill adult fleas, but only for a period of 24 hours or less. It is useful in situations such as boarding, grooming, and prior to surgery. Because Capstar is out of your pet's system in 24 hours, it should be followed with a longer-lasting product that will work on both adult and immature fleas. Capstar is usually available at most supermarkets, pet stores, vets and pet groomers.
Flea combs are often overlooked as a valuable tool in removing fleas. Your pet will love the extra, hands-on attention he gets as you comb through his coat. Flea combs are absolutely non-toxic and are the best method to use on ill, pregnant, or infant pets. Be sure to choose a comb that has 32 teeth/inch. Comb your pet and then place the fleas you comb off in detergent water, which will kill them. The disadvantage to flea combing is that it takes a considerable amount of time, and will not be effective in pets that have flea bite hypersensitivity.
PREVENTION --- PREVENTION --- PREVENTION
The best flea control is always flea prevention. Repellents are a cornerstone of prevention. Pyrethrins and permethrins have flea repellent activity. (NOTE: Permethrins should NOT be used on cats.) Using products containing these insecticides will help keep fleas away and prevent a flea problem from developing.
Regular use of insect growth regulators/development inhibitors will reduce the risk of fleas becoming established in the indoor and outdoor environment.
Before they are allowed in their house or kennel areas, pets should be given a flea bath after they have been boarded, played with pets from other households, or visited places where other animals have been (e.g., dog parks).