Watch out for ticks and fleas, say vets

Vets are advising pet owners to be particularly vigilant of their pets this summer, as the warmer, wetter weather brings with it an increased danger of parasites.

Saturday, 20th August 2016, 2:00 pm

The warm and damp conditions throughout the UK over the past few months, means grass and flora has grown longer and thicker, creating the perfect breeding ground for parasites such as ticks and fleas.

And with more families and their pets making the most of the summer with fun outdoor activities, there is now a greater risk that they will come into contact with these pesky parasites.

Dr Huw Stacey, director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, said: “Every year when the weather is wet but mild, we see a rise in the number of pets coming into our practices suffering from parasites.

“Adult fleas can jump 165 times their own length and can easily spread from one pet to another when they are outside enjoying the summer weather.

“Ticks can’t jump but will attach themselves onto pets to feed on their blood and can cause skin irritation and discomfort, as well as transfer some dangerous diseases.

“A lot of the pets we treat for these parasites have often been enjoying a day out in the garden or a busy park, forest or moorland with other pets.

“That’s why it is crucial that owners make sure they brush and check over their pet’s coat every time they have been outside.

“If owners do find ticks or fleas in their pet’s coat, the best thing to do is seek veterinary help at their local practice immediately.

“However when it comes to ticks, owners can remove them themselves with a tick hook but they should never try and remove them with tweezers or their fingers, because this method can easily leave the tick’s head behind, embedded in the pet’s skin which can cause further problems.”

A single flea can lay up to 2,000 eggs in its lifetime (most of which will be found in carpets and soft furniture) and fleas can bite humans too.

Ticks can spread a number of dangerous diseases, including Lyme disease which humans can catch as well. This is why it is so crucial that preventative measures are taken by pet owners to keep their pets and themselves safe from these parasites.

“We strongly believe that prevention is better than cure, especially with easily preventable problems like ticks and fleas,” added Dr Stacey.

“Preventative parasite treatments are very effective when used correctly, and if owners keep their pet up-to-date with the treatments then they will stay safe from ticks and fleas.

“We’d also always recommend that owners consider putting their pet on a health plan and having insurance cover. Both are very different, but both help with keeping your pets safe from problems like parasites.

“With health plans, pets are fully covered against preventable problems like fleas and worms, and with insurance owners can relax and have peace of mind that their pet is covered in case of accidents or illnesses.”