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Parasite control for dogs

Parasite control

I have a two-month-old Maltese Terrier who has had her vaccinations, but my vet has also recommended that I follow a strict flea and worming regime. I know there are lots of products available, so can you advise me on what I should be using for my puppy?

Paul Manktelow advises...

There are indeed many products available, covering a range of different parasites. Most prescription-only flea treatments will treat and prevent flea infestations and mites, both of which cause severe itching in sensitive animals, and are easily transferred between pets and spread throughout the house. These products will treat mites – more specifically ear mites, known as otodectes, and sarcoptes, also known as mange. Sarcoptes is a mite that is usually transferred from foxes or other wildlife and causes severe itching and hair loss. This mite can also be transferred to humans via direct contact, causing red and itchy skin rashes.

Most prescription flea treatments will also treat biting lice, roundworms and hookworms (these worms cause symptoms including stomach upset, pot bellies, and often blood-tinged diarrhoea). Some treatments will also help with demodex infestations – this is a burrowing mite that can cause severe hair loss and predispose skin infections if left for too long. They will also help to prevent heartworm (spread by mosquitoes and generally found in warmer European countries), and treat and prevent lungworm.

Lungworm is a parasite that is becoming more prevalent in the UK. It is transferred by slugs and snails, and causes coughing, excessive bleeding, collapse and even death if left untreated. In addition, some recently developed flea products treat and prevent tick infestations. UK ticks can now transport potentially fatal diseases such as babesiosis and lyme disease, so in tick-prevalent parts of the country, including areas near woodland and grassland, it is important to consider protection against these. Most flea treatments need to be administered monthly to be effective, although some can now be used once every three months. They come as either a skin treatment or a chewable tablet.

Prescription-only worming tablets provide treatment against tapeworm, as well as roundworms, hookworms and whipworms. They may also provide some protection against lungworm and heartworm. Young dogs need worming treatments more frequently until they are six months old. Most adults need treatments once every three months, although in some cases monthly treatments are recommended. Veterinary-prescription products are generally preferred over nonprescription treatments, as they are proven to be effective and safe for use.

It is always well worth discussing your individual dog’s needs with your vet to be sure they are fully protected against the relevant parasitic diseases.