Pet Parasites

Written by Carolanne Ciccero RVN
June 26, 2020

Some brief information about the most common parasites our pets encounter in the UK. Pet parasites also have human health risks. Due to this it is important owners are aware of how to spot and treat them.


Fleas can cause a sore and itchy skin condition called Flea Allergy Dermatitis. When fleas are present they can quickly cause an infestation in your house.  Flea bites can be quite nasty for people too.

Fleas are tiny dark brown flightless insects that can jump really high and move quickly which is why they are not always noticed on your pet. If you suspect your pet may have fleas, you may see tiny black dots in their fur that look like grit or soil. Taking a piece of damp cotton wool over this area will help you diagnose fleas on your pets. If the soil particles turn brown or red on the damp cotton wool then that is flea dirt. The presence of flea dirt will always mean your pet has or has had fleas. 

Flea prevention comes in liquid (spray or spot-on) tablet or collar.


Ticks are from the same group as spiders. They have tiny pin-sized heads that bury under your pet’s skin leaving the grey/brown body part sticking out. They can be itchy for the pet but not always.

It is a good idea to thoroughly check your pets coat after being out.  If you find a tick, then the best way to remove it is using a Tick Hook which is available online or from all pet shops. You need to ensure you remove the head part as well as the body.

Ticks in the UK are known to spread Lyme Disease, Ehrlichiosis and Babesiosis so ensuring your pets parasite protection is up to date is vital. Tick prevention usually comes in the same form as flea treatments.


Worm infestations can begin from birth so it is important to carry out an effective de-worming protocol throughout your pets life. At least once a month for puppies and kittens and every 3 months for adults.  The exact protocol will depend on the product used.

Roundworms and tapeworms are the most common endo-parasites in the UK. Some of these worms can spread to humans and are potentially quite dangerous for children so ensuring your pet is given an effective wormer regularly is important for all members of the family.

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