Guide to flea and worm treatments for pets

Parasites like fleas and worms are more than just a nuisance. Left untreated, they can cause serious health problems for your pet. 

Both dogs and cats are susceptible to parasites, so to keep your pet protected it’s essential to make sure they’re treated for worms and fleas regularly. Here’s everything you need to know about flea and worm treatment for pets.

Parasites like fleas and worms are more than just a nuisance. Left untreated, they can cause serious health problems for your pet. 

Both dogs and cats are susceptible to parasites, so to keep your pet protected it’s essential to make sure they’re treated for worms and fleas regularly. Here’s everything you need to know about flea and worm treatment for pets.

Tom Harrison
Insurance expert
4
minute read
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Last Updated 31 JANUARY 2022

Fleas on dogs and cats 

Fleas are tiny jumping parasites that feed on your pet’s blood. It’s easy for your pet to pick up fleas – either from the garden or when they’re out on their daily walk. Before you know it, you can have a flea infestation in your home. 

Although flea bites can cause an irritating itch for humans, they can lead to more serious health problems in pets, including: 

  • allergic dermatitis from flea saliva 
  •  skin infections
  • anaemia from blood loss
  • worms, from eating a flea infected with tapeworm larvae

Signs your dog or cat might have fleas

  • constant scratching and chewing
  • sores, scabs and patches of hair loss
  • your pet may show signs of depression
  • tiny black droppings in your pet’s fur  
  • flea dirt on pet bedding, carpets or rugs
  • flea bites on you and other members of the household.

Worms in dogs and cats

Once your puppy or kitten is old enough to go outside, they’re at risk of getting worms.

Dogs and cats can get infected by eating worm eggs found in contaminated soil or grass, and by eating infected rodents, raw meat or fleas. Roundworm is common in kittens, as it can be passed on through their mother’s milk.  

Tapeworm and roundworm are the most common types of worm that can infect your pet. Typical symptoms include:

In rare cases, worms can even be fatal. So it’s important to treat them as soon as you spot the signs, then regularly throughout your pet’s lifetime.

Signs your pet might have worms

  • worms, eggs or blood in their faeces
  • worms around their rear
  • worms in their vomit
  • a bloated belly
  • dry, dull fur
  • dragging their bottom along the ground

Flea and worm treatments for pets

Both dogs and cats need regular treatment to protect them against fleas and worms.  

There are various options to consider, such as:

  • Topical treatments - combined flea and worm treatments that can be applied directly to your pet’s skin, in the form of spot-on treatments, powders, shampoos or sprays. 
  • Tablets - effective at quickly flushing parasites out of your pet’s system. If your pet finds a pill difficult to swallow, you can chop it up and hide it in their food.
  • Collars - can help prevent fleas but won’t get rid of worms. They’re not as effective as topical treatments or tablets.  

Your pet will need to be treated for fleas once a month, and worms every two to three months – in some cases, more regularly. Speak to your vet about the best course of action, depending on your pet’s lifestyle. 

Flea and worm prevention

Dealing with fleas and worms is part of owning a pet. There are, however, ways to lower the risk of infestation:

  • Make sure your home and pet bowls are regularly cleaned using a pet-safe disinfectant.
  • Clean up after your pet and carefully dispose of their faeces straightaway.
  • Use flea and worm treatments regularly.
  • Groom your pet on a regular basis and check for eggs or droppings in their fur.
  • Wash your hands before eating - worms can be easily transmitted to humans, particularly young children.

Does pet insurance cover flea and worm treatment? 

Pet insurance typically doesn’t cover routine treatment, like flea and worm treatment, so this is something you’ll need to stay on top of yourself. You may be able to find a separate health plan, that covers things like flea and worm treatments.

Remember, with regular flea and worm treatment, your pet will be healthier and happier. And this, in turn, can help keep the cost of your pet insurance premiums down. 

Looking to compare pet insurance? You can get the right pet insurance at the right price with our comparison service.

Frequently asked questions

Why do I need to keep treating my pet for fleas and worms?

Ongoing treatment for your pet is really important because flea pupae can lay dormant in your house for up to a year. If one of these hatches, it will seek out your cat or dog as a source of food. But if you’ve continued with flea protection for your animals, the newly hatched adult flea will die before laying any more eggs.

Do I need to treat my house if my pet has fleas?

If your pet has fleas, it’s highly likely that they’ve spread around your home. Fleas nest and breed in bedding, carpets and curtains, so you should wash soft furnishings and use a flea spray around your home once your pet has been treated. Remember to also wash your dog or cat’s bedding so your pet isn’t reinfected.

Can I catch fleas or worms from my pet?

Fleas tend to prefer hairy animals like dogs and cats, but they will also bite people, causing itchy skin and even flu-like symptoms. It’s also possible for humans to catch roundworm, hookworm and whipworm, with children most at risk. Symptoms include coughing, headaches and stomach pain. In rare cases, roundworm larvae can infect organs.

What problems can ticks cause my pet?

Like fleas and worms, ticks are small parasites. They feed off your pet’s blood and can be picked up by pets in natural habitats, including woodlands and places where wild animals have been. They often carry bloodborne diseases like Lyme disease, which can cause problems in pets including arthritis and kidney damage.

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