Pet parasites …how to spot them and manage them

Mar 1, 2024 12:57:18 PM

Common UK parasites include:

  • Fleas
  • Ticks
  • Worms
  • Mites
  • Mange


Fleas are tiny insects that live on a host (usually a dog, cat or rabbit) and in your home soft furnishings such as carpets and rugs. They need blood to survive so they can’t live forever without a living host but they can lay eggs in your home. They bite and can cause skin irritations and allergies. Excessive exposure to fleas can result in anaemia in puppies and older or weaker dogs.

To treat you will need to apply flea product to your animals (all of your animals, not just the carrier) and use a flea product in your home. To prevent them coming back, simply treat your pets (usually monthly) with a good quality flea treatment, brush them regularly and keep their beds clean and dry. 


These are small, round parasites - usually black, pink, purple or a dark grey. They attach themselves to the host animal and suck their blood. At first you might mistake them for a small lump. Unless you know how to remove them it’s always best to have them removed professionally as the tick’s head can remain in the animal’s body.

Intestinal worms

Roundworms and tapeworms live inside your pet’s intestines. They can cause your pet to feel hungry and unwell as they eat the food you’re feeding your dog. They’re not serious but can lead to itching around their bottom, weight loss, vomiting and diarrhoea – all unpleasant and uncomfortable. Treat by worming them regularly.


Lungworm is a more serious type of parasite and can be caught via ingesting slugs and snails. Lungworm spreads throughout the body and can cause breathing issues, bleeding and seizures. In some cases it can be fatal. Again, it can be prevented through regular, routine worming treatments.

Ear mites

Ear mites are most common in puppies but can be found in any dog. Usually picked up from another dog, ear mites are itchy and uncomfortable for your pet but can also lead to infections if not treated. Symptoms include smelly or swollen ears, ear scratching, head shaking and dark brown ear wax. Ask your vet for a remedy, it’s easily treated.


Sarcoptes mites cause very itchy skin, often red, and unsightly fur loss. The mites burrow under the skin and can spread quickly. It’s extremely uncomfortable for your dog and can be relieved by veterinary treatment. It’s highly contagious although not between animals and humans.

Fortunately most of the parasites we are likely to encounter on our pets can be prevented or treated quickly and inexpensively. For off the shelf remedies you’ll need to know how much your pet weighs so that the right dose can be given. Ask our Nutritional Advisers if you need help weighing your pet

We’d always recommend a consultation with your vet just to be on the safe side and to ensure that the treatment is quick and effective.

DON’T USE dog flea treatments on cats as this can prove fatal.


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