Fleas, Ticks and Worms

Fleas, Ticks and Worms

Fleas and ticks can attach themselves to your pet as they go about their daily routines. The soft, warm fur of dogs and cats provides the perfect environment for fleas and ticks. These insects feed on your pet’s blood and can cause health problems ranging from allergic reactions to serious tick-borne illnesses. Both fleas and ticks are more common during the warmer months, but you can take steps to ward them off any time of year.


Ectoparasites are the ones you can see, such as fleas, ticks and mosquitoes. These types of parasites not only cause discomfort in the form of itchiness and pain, they can also transmit some very serious diseases, like mycoplasma Haemophilus (from fleas), Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever (from ticks), and heartworm disease (from mosquitoes).

Intestinal parasites

Intestinal parasites can cause diarrhoea, a poor hair coat (due to not absorbing nutrients), weight loss, vomiting and loss of appetite. The most common intestinal parasites are roundworms, hookworms and whipworms. Tapeworms are also very common — not to mention very gross — but they tend not to cause problems in dogs and cats. Many of these intestinal parasites are zoonotic, which means they are transmissible from animals to people.


Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes. And yes, when the heartworms are allowed to mature in your pet, they do reside in the heart. The mosquitoes transmit an immature larval stage of the heartworm and then these larvae go through four more stages to become adults. If they become adults, the result can be heart failure and severe lung disease. Heartworms can infect both dogs and cats, but cats tend to have a lower incidence than dogs.


Dogs can be infected by slugs and snails. This very commonly happens from eating grass, drinking from puddles or from playing with/chewing their toys that have been in the garden, therefore eating the slugs or snails as a consequence. Slugs and snails thrive in warm, damp conditions i.e. spring or autumn, so more cases are seen during this period.


Any warm, soapy water will kill fleas, so dishwashing soap or any dog shampoo will kill the fleas on your pet. If fleas are in the area, though, they'll jump back on.


Dogs and cats can take some treatments, such as tablets, by mouth. One type is a quick fix that kills adult fleas within 30 minutes. You can give it to your pet daily. Other medications, which you give monthly, keep flea eggs from hatching.

Skin Treatments

You put these treatments on your dog or cat’s back. They work well for a month. Some kill fleas and ticks. Others target fleas and their eggs. Some dog products can kill cats, so ask your vet which product is right for your pet, and follow the instructions.

Citrus repellent

Cut a lemon into quarters and put into a pint jar.

Cover with boiling water and let steep overnight.

Put the solution in a spray bottle and spray all over the dog. Be sure to spray …

  • behind the ears
  • around the head
  • at the base of the tail
  • in the armpits

Risky 'Green' Fixes

Some natural flea and tick remedies can cause severe reactions in cats and dogs. These include:

  • Geranium
  • Eucalyptus
  • Pennyroyal oil
  • Garlic and onion

“Tick control is important not just to take care of pets, but also to prevent establishing a transmission cycle where the pathogens can be transmitted to the humans in the household,” Esteve-Gasent said.

With help from flea and tick medications, your pet can make be free from parasites and the diseases that come with them.