Fleas & Worms

How to scratch a flea problem.

My dog has fleeeaaas. It’s a cute little song but a not-so-cute reality. Fleas are a common problem for dogs, especially during warm weather (spring and summer), though they can still pay your pooch a visit, year round. Heard of flea circuses? Well, these guys aren’t clowning around. They can cause parasitic or infectious diseases to your dog, including tapeworms.

How to tell if your pet is giving free accommodation to itchy and scratchy? Some dogs become irritable, scratch, or have scabby lesions on their skin. Others have no visible signs of discomfort, whatsoever. So, it’s best to check for fleas (or dark pepper specks, which are flea poo-poo) on your dog’s skin, beneath the fur on his back and tail. Using a flea comb is a great way to get it done.

If your dog does have fleas, chances are he won’t want to run away and join their circus, so that’s good. Give him a treatment that’s safe for dogs or young puppies, if that’s him. Your vet can recommend the best medicine, so just ask.

Also, remember that a large part of the flea life circus – oops, cycle – is actually OFF of doggie dearest. Translation: Your house and backyard may be housing flea eggs and larvae. Again, for free. This situation calls for flea bombs or other related household products, usually found at your local supermarket.

My dog has wooorrrms. OK, not a real song, but a definite reality. All puppies are born with intestinal (gut) worms, and older dogs can pick them up at the park, or by chatting with other socialites like themselves. Like fleas, there’s just no wiggling around ’em. It’s important to treat them regularly to prevent sickness or worse, fatal intestinal blockage. Yipe!

How to tell if your puppy has worms? Look for a fat, round, belly; thin coat, and less playful behaviour. In other words, nothing like Santa.

It’s a good idea to give your dog worm treatments at two, four, six, eight, 10 and 12 weeks of age. Although roundworms are the most common worm in puppies, you can also give him a broad-spectrum treatment, which also treats hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms. Older puppies and adult dogs should be given this remedy every three months, or monthly, depending on what the product tells you. Your vet can help you through any ongoing treatment your itchy poochie may need.

Dogs and children are like two peas in a pod, sharing everything from food to mud – and in small instances, worm larvae. This can happen if your kiddie is playing bulldozer in the dirt, and accidentally eats a teeny roundworm larva, courtesy of Digger’s poo-poo. Worst case scenario, the larva could burrow into the child’s gut or organs, get into the bloodstream or eye. That’s why it’s important to treat your dog or cat for worms as soon as possible.

Rest assured, this isn’t a common occurrence. And thankfully kids cannot catch worms from pets simply by petting or playing with them.

So, don’t stress, pet-lovers. As long as your little ones wash their hands after holding their pets and before eating their triangle sandwiches, they’ll likely steer clear of the unwanted wigglies. Woof.