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Cat fleas and dog fleas run and jump actively. Rabbit fleas can often be found on cats which catch wild rabbits. These rabbit fleas are usually found around the edges of the ears and usually stick in one place. They will not set up a breeding population in a house without rabbits.

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There are many ideas for removing a tick: burning its bottom with a cigarette, smearing with vaseline to suffocate it, soaking it in alcohol for example.

The main problem is to get the tick off in one piece. This is very difficult if the tick is dead. There are special plastic gadgets called 'tick hooks' for the job. If your pet is particularly at risk, your vet can probably supply one.

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Two type of dog tapeworm, which are, fortunately, not common in most parts of the UK, produce huge cysts, called hydatids. These can occur in humans, but the main secondary host is the sheep. It is very important that any dogs which might have ANY access to dead sheep should be treated regularly for this tapeworm (Echinococcus) as removing the cysts from human livers is extremely dangerous.

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Parasite Control:

There are two common sorts of parasites found on or in our pets: external and internal. We now advise the use of a product which treats both external and internal parasites at the same time.

The product is called Advocate and is a spot-on to be applied to the animal's skin every month. As far as fleas are concerned this is not much different to the product we used before. The major difference from other worming products is that the drug remains in the animal continuously, killing adult and later stage larvae of roundworms non-stop. Other wormers, tablets etc, pass throught the animal and kill worms present but then disappear. Because of the life-cycle of round worms and the risk to humans from roundworm larvae it is much better to provide continuous control.

The other main reason we have changed our policy is the spread of a worm called Angiostrongylus from the continent into the UK. This has now been reported in County Durham and pets in the south of England have died from haemorrhage as a result of this worm. Advocate kills the later stage larvae and the adults.

External:

Fleas are extremely common and once a population is established in a home they can take a lot of effort to eliminate. Modern insecticides are highly effective and I favour the ones which are applied to the skin and which remain on the surface so that fleas will come into contact with them before they can bite the pet. Most of the problem caused by fleas is due to an allergic reaction by the pet to the flea's saliva. Preventing biting by the fleas is therefore important. My view is that insecticides and other flea control treatments which are absorbed into the pet's bloodstream are not satisfactory.

Other less common external parasites are ticks (which are like grey/cream baked beans attached to the skin) lice which are smaller and difficult to see and mites which are almost microscopic. Some flea treatments will also protect against these other parasites.

Rabbits commonly develop very scurfy areas especially over the shoulders. This problem is caused by mites living on the skin surface. There are a number of ways to deal with them. Fleas occur on rabbits: in house rabbits, cat (and human!) fleas are found. A flea killing product called Advantage is now licensed to use on rabbits, but it is important NOT to use other dog or cat flea preparations on rabbits. We often use a flea repellent called Xenex to prevent and control skin parasites on rabbits and smaller rodents.

Another very distressing problem affecting rabbits in hot weather is fly-strike. Particularly developing if the rabbit's bottom becomes damp, dirty and smelly, this is an infectation of fly maggots which will eat into the rabbit's skin and internal organs (if left long enough). This can be fatal. There are several products available to prevent fly-strike: Xenex is one we always have available.

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Internal:

Frawnt Summer Song, like all puppies, needs regular worming, and this
should continue all his life.

Intestinal worms are also very common in dogs and cats. The most worrying are roundworms. It has been known for a long time that dog roundworms pose a risk to human health, but recent experiments suggest that cat roundworms can too. The risk is that the larvae hatching from worm eggs accidentally swallowed by humans (especially children) can get into the eye or brain and cause damage. It is therefore important to worm dogs and cats every 3 months with an effective drug to kill roundworms. Tapeworms are fairly rare in dogs, but are very common in hunting cats as they are caught by eating mice or rabbits. Regular worming of hunters will clear any which have been caught.

For more information about worms visit the site of the manufacturers of one of the products we use.

Other intestinal parasites are rare in dogs and cats, but Coccidia are a common cause of disease and sometimes death in rabbits, particularly young ones. The protozoal parasites invade cells lining the intestine and multiply. The oocysts (shown in the photomicrograph on the left) which are shed in huge numbers in the faeces will reinfect the rabbit in waves which tend to get bigger every few days. It is therefore essential to remove all droppings from a rabbits cage every day to break the cycle.

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