Having pets in your home and part of your family is a truly special thing, but there are certain responsibilities and problems that come with being a cat or dog owner. Two common problems all pet owners face are fleas and worms – two species that, once they have infected your pet, can pose a threat to both theirs and the health of your household.
Of course, prevention of these critters is the best way to go, such as using regular and reliable flea and worming treatments from a reputable source. You can buy flea and worming treatments from your local trusted vet or a subscription service like Itch Pet, where the treatments are delivered to your door once a month for you to easily administer without having to remember.
Despite all the efforts we make to protect our furry family members from fleas and worms, they are resilient creatures and can still crop up every now and again.
Here are some of the tell-tale signs to look out for that could mean your cat or dog has fleas or worms.
Fleas are usually easier to spot than worms as they live on the outside of your pet’s body and even around your home as opposed to inside their stomach. Some key things to look out for:
Scratching and biting
The most obvious and telling sign that your pet has contracted fleas is excessive or regular scratching, particularly in hard to reach places like joints, around the neck and under armpits as this tends to be where fleas hideout. Your cat or dog may also be seen biting their fur or skin; another common sign that they are experiencing itchiness and discomfort caused by pesky fleas.
Sore patches, spots or infections
Another symptom to look out for is sore patches of skin, spots or signs of infection on your pet’s skin. These can be caused by excessive scratching or biting or can be a cause of a more serious flea infestation that has resulted in the skin becoming evidently sore. If you make sure to be wary of scratching, you should be able to diagnose fleas before it gets to this stage, but checking over your pet’s skin under their fur regularly is a good way to find out.
All cats and dogs should be brushed regularly to maintain a healthy coat and remove any excess fur to let their skin breathe. When doing this, be on the lookout for any black specks in the fur as these could be flea faeces and a sign that youir pet has become infection. If you do come across black specks, wipe them onto a wet kitchen paper and if the colour turns red, this confirms that your animal has fleas and needs treatment.
Worms are just as harmful and uncomfortable for your cat or dog to experience, but instead of being evident outside the body, they live inside the stomach making it a lot easier for them to go undiagnosed and therefore untreated.
Here are some common symptoms of worms to watch out for in your cat or dog, if you spot any of these, you should administer a reliable worming treatment or take your animal to the vet for professional help.
If your cat or dog has started vomiting regularly after eating, this can be a sign of roundworms, the most common type of worm found in our furry family members.
In a similar way, diarrhea is also a sign of roundworms; the worms lead to animals not being able to digest their food properly leading to runny feces. Every now and then our cats and dogs will experience vomiting and diarrhea due to other things like fur balls or consuming things they shouldn’t outdoors, but it’s when this happens for multiple days that it can be considered worms and you should take your animal to the vets.
Another symptom is blood or worms in feces, so it’s important to pay close attention to your pet’s toilet activities if you suspect they have worms. As unpleasant as this may be, it’s important to diagnose worms as soon as you can to prevent further health issues.
Weight loss or potbelly
Another one to keep an eye out for is weight loss. If your pet is eating normally and hasn’t lost its appetite yet you’ve noticed them losing weight over time, this can be a sign that your cat has contracted roundworms.
On the opposite end, if worms are undiagnosed and not treated, long-term this can cause your cat or dog’s belly to expand and appear like a potbelly due to the worms inside. If you are paying close attention to your pet, worms shouldn’t get to this stage. However, if you come across a stray animal or a rescue animal that appears to have a swollen stomach, this is a good indicator that they have had worms for a long period of time and need urgent medical attention.
A less common type of worm but one that is still frequently found in family pets is tapeworm, which has slightly different symptoms such as scooting due to the itching around the bottom area. Scooting is when your pet slides their bum across the floor, usually on carpets or rugs due to discomfort.
Coarse or dry fur
Finally, another sign of worms is if you notice your cat or dog’s fur has become especially coarse or dry to the touch. This is a sign of dehydration and a lack of nutrients due to the worms.