Worms, ticks, mites, and fleas – most dogs will have to contend with parasites at some point in their lives.

As far as your dog’s concerned, the vast majority of parasitic infections are merely irritating. Yet if left untreated, they can lead to some serious life threatening conditions.

When it comes to parasites in dogs, ignoring the problem will only make things worse, and may end up affecting not just your dog, but your entire family. Some parasites can even transfer diseases to people.

How do dogs catch parasites?

It depends. Dogs can catch fleas, ticks, scabies and ear mites simply through being near other dogs, or through passing through certain areas when out and about. Coccidia, giardia, and other internal parasites can develop when dogs eat soil or excrement, or when they drink dirty water.


Fleas are the most common cause of skin disease in our pets. The most common type of flea to be found on all cats and dogs is the cat flea.

As well as causing skin conditions fleas can also transfer tapeworms to our pets by swallowing an infected flea.

Life cycle of the flea

Once the flea has laid its eggs in your pet’s coat, these will be scattered around your house, settling on bedding, upholstery and carpets which we all share.

Depending on the environment, eggs will normally hatch within 2 days but in certain conditions they can remain dormant for up to a year before hatching.

Larvae will burrow into our carpets, furniture and bedding for 7 to 10 days during which time they feed on household dust whilst forming a cocoon.

At 7 to 10 days the adult flea has developed and will emerge from the cocoon. However if the weather is cold this process may take up to a year.

The adult flea starts producing eggs immediately and the cycle repeats itself.

Environmental control

If fleas have been seen on your pet then there will be eggs distributed around your house. We recommend INDOREX household spray. This can size is enough to treat an average 3 to 4 bedroom house and lasts for up to a year. This also kills adult fleas for up to 2 months.

We would advise thorough washing of bedding and vigorous vacuuming before use. The spray can be used on all soft furnishings, but any aquatic pets and birds must be removed for a short period, following the detailed instructions on the can. In the case of extreme infestations, local councils should be contacted.

Signs of fleas

  • Persistent itching or scratching.
  • Obvious flea dirt in the coat, recognisable as black flecks, which is the digested blood of your pet.
  • Self-mutilation, hair loss and general reddening of the skin.
  • Occasionally some pets have a flea allergic dermatitis where one flea can be enough to cause irritation over the skin.

Many pets can show none of the above signs yet still have a severe infestation.


Ticks are a very common external parasite that bite and attach to the hosts skin using mouthparts. They can cause significant disease by transmitting infections on these mouthparts acting as a vector (lymes disease is transmitted in this way). They can also cause local irritation and skin infections focally where they bite.

Ticks are largely a seasonal problem and they typically are a parasite seen between spring and autumn although mild winters can allow them to feed later in the year. The ticks that can bite our pets are usually found where wildlife or livestock graze (deer, sheep, rabbits).

Areas where vegetation is overgrown and unmanaged are particularly high risk for ticks.

Charter Vet, Tom Williams, tells you all you need to know about Tick bites and your pets in the video below.
Are your pets covered? Do you know the risks of Lyme disease?

Treatment and prevention

Veterinary licenced products are the most effective, but must be used at the correct time intervals and correct dose for your pets body weight.

Our healthcare team can advise you on a personal parasite control plan for your pet, depending on their age.

If you have any further questions about protecting your pets against fleas and ticks, please contact us and speak to one of our veterinary surgeons or veterinary nurses, who will be happy to advise you.


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