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Is your parasite control up to scratch?

Is your parasite control up to scratch?

With parasite control, prevention is always preferable to treatment. Pets with an undiagnosed infestation are at risk of spreading the infestation by shedding microscopic eggs and larvae into their environment.

Parasites are organisms that spend most of their lives in the environment that surround our pets. We can individualise a programme for your pet depending on a range of factors such as their life stage, lifestyle and the environment in which they live in.


There are two main types of worms that affect our pets; Roundworms and Tapeworms. Most worms can be transmitted from animal to human orally or via skin contact, worms can survive in the environment for up to five years and can also be passed on during pregnancy. Tapeworm is transmitted to pets via fleas.

Symptoms: Commonly your pet will show no signs of a worm infestation however in young animals roundworms can cause:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Bloating of the tummy
  • Weightloss and loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • A failure to thrive
  • Dragging their bottoms on the floor
  • In cats tapeworm segments may be seen around their rear end.

Minimising the risk of infection for you and your pet:

  • Wash your hands after playing in the garden, gardening or when playing with your pet
  • Regularly clear the lawn of pet faeces
  • Avoid playing or walking barefoot in faecally contaminated areas
  • De-worm pets regularly; we recommend every second week from two – twelve weeks old then every month until six months old after which time pets should be treated every three months for life
  • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consumption
  • Prevent pets from hunting wild animals (including slugs and snails) and avoid raw meat and offal (see your veterinarian for specific advice)
  • If you think your pet has worms book in a appointment with your local Animates Vetcare clinic for advice and treatment


Fleas are the most common external parasite for pets and can be a problem at any time of the year however they tend to be more active in the warmth of summer.

  • A female flea can lay up to 2,000 eggs in her lifetime
  • 95% of fleas live in the environment (carpet, bedding, gardens etc.) in various life stages
  • Infestation may begin long before you are able to see them jumping and biting
  • Your pet is at risk of re-infestion if their environment is not treated at the same time

The flea pyramid 5% adult fleas, 10% Pupae, 35% Larvae, 50% eggs

Flea bites can be just as irritating to your pet’s skin as it is to ours, a single flea can bite up to 400 times a day. Your pet may be scratching or grooming themselves a lot more than they usually would, some pets may loose fur and have skin sores. You may also see fleas or flea dirt in your pet’s coat or around your house or garden. Note: Severe flea infestations can cause serious health problems including Flea Allergy Dermatitis or Anaemia in young or sick animals.

We advocate that year round flea control products are used on all pets in the first instance. If you do have a flea infestation it is important to treat the animal and the environment at the same time, ensure you wash their bedding in hot water too. There are a range of treatments for both pets and environments below.

Flea life cycle Eggs to Adult Flea Adult flea

Pet Treatment:
Topical; spotted onto the back of the pet’s neck the medication spreads over the animal’s entire body via oil glands. Topical treatments will repel and kill fleas working to interrupt the flea life cycle.
Oral; taking a tablet will work to disrupt the life cycle of fleas. Oral treatments will repel and kill fleas.
Flea collars; when worn, flea collars will repel and kill fleas and ticks for up to 8 months.
Flea shampoo; when bathing your dog with medicated shampoo, fleas and ticks will be killed on contact. Flea shampoos are best used in conjunction with other treatments and will need to be used often to protect your pet from fleas as the effectiveness will wear off within two weeks.
Flea sprays and powders; these work to repel fleas and ticks, some sprays also provide treatment for biting and flea allergies. Be careful when using sprays around the eyes, nose and mouth as they can be irritating to both animals and humans.

Flea Bomb; a continuous spray of pesticides which is toxic to fleas. Flea bombs are great for treating a large area however, it is important that you treat the entire house rather than just one room. We recommend treating your car as well. Flea bombs can be hazardous to pets so it is important to keep them away while treatment is taking place.
Flea Vacuum Powder or Spray; can be spread over your carpet and on upholstered furniture. It is important that you treat all areas and appropriate furniture as a re-infestation can occur if something is missed, don’t forget your pet’s bedding. Treatment will need to sit for a period of time, often overnight, before it is vacuumed up. Remove the vacuum cleaner bag and throw it away in an outdoor bin to prevent surviving fleas from escaping and re-infecting the house. We recommend washing your pet’s bedding and soft toys on the hottest wash setting possible.

Other Parasites

Ear Mites can be the cause of itchy ears in pets, but can be easily avoided with the use of specific flea treatments.

Demodex mites and sarcoptic mange can cause a variety of symptoms. Demodex typically causes hair loss on the head, face and feet, but can be generalised in severe cases and is not normally pruritic (itchy). Sarcoptic mange is far less common now, but it is intensely pruritic and is a potential zoonosis (it can affect people). Both demodex and sarcoptic mange can be effectively treated with products from your local clinic.

Lice are seldom a problem if flea control is regularly used. There are two main types of lice which can affect your pet, biting lice and suckling lice. Usually white in colour, lice can sometimes be seen in your pet’s coat. All animals in the household and the environment should be thoroughly cleaned if lice are found. If you feel your pet is at risk of, or has an infestation, talk to your vet about the right product for them.

Cattle Tick can be a problem in some areas particularly in rural farming areas. The only cattle tick in New Zealand, Haemaphysalis will favour cattle however; they can infest on a variety of animals including humans, horses and domestic pets. There are flea control products available that prevent the infestation of cattle ticks. If you feel your pet is at risk of, or has an infestation, talk to your local Animates Vetcare about the right product for them.