Caring for a dog concerns more than just food and shelter. Often many owners are unsure about how to deal with some of the common medical conditions that occur naturally when looking after the health of your dog or puppy. Two common complaints to affect your dog include worms and fleas.
Most puppies are born with roundworm. Symptoms include mild vomiting and diarrhoea, lack of appetite and swollen stomach. All puppies should be routinely wormed from two weeks of age. Adult dogs should be wormed every three months to prevent roundworm infestation. Another common internal parasite is the tapeworm, which is normally found in the adult dog. Signs that your dog may have these include licking of the anal region or dragging of the rear. Look for tapeworm egg sacs in the hair around the anal region or for tapeworms in the faeces. How does your dog acquire tapeworms? Tapeworms are passed through an intermediate host, such as birds, mice or rabbits but in most cases it is the flea. The dog swallows the intermediate host containing the larvae of the tapeworm. The larva grows into a tapeworm, attaching itself, by its mouth, to the intestine wall of the dog. Once the tapeworm matures it sheds segments containing microscopic eggs which are then eaten by the intermediate host and the cycle starts again. To prevent tapeworm occurring you must ensure that your dog is flea free. Subsequently your dog will need to be wormed with a tapeworm treatment every three months.
There are several different types of fleas, including, the dog flea, hedgehog flea, human fleas, rabbit fleas and bird fleas. However, the most common flea to be found on a dog is the cat flea. Fleas tend to escalate in the summer and autumn months when it is warmer and their lifecycle needs less time to be completed. Adult fleas live on the host, i.e. the dog, feeding, breeding and laying eggs. These eggs tend to fall of the host on to carpets or bedding. Shortly after they hatch into tiny larvae which feed on dust and debris until they form a pupa. In the pupa stage the flea cycle can remain dormant for up to twelve months. Once the pupa hatches, a young flea is released were it finds a host and repeats the life cycle. A tell-tale sign of your dog having fleas is excessive scratching. Check your dog's coat for flea dirt, visible as tiny black specks. If found treat your dog with a flea treatment available from your vets. You should also treat the area were your dog sleeps with a biological household flea spray. Other common external parasites include demodex mite, harvest mite, cheyletiella mite, sarcoptes mites, tick and louse. Read more of our Dog Care Guide OR Find out more about the benefits of natural dog food for your dog.