Canine Parasites

Canine Internal and External Parasites

Various worms, fleas, ticks, mites and lice are the main parasites we encounter commonly inside or outside our pet in this country. Please look at our PETS passport and travel section for information on additional health hazards aboard. What an unpleasant thought! Some have potential to cause health problems for ourselves, children and pregnant women too. So it is important, not only for our pets, but for our families and Public Health reasons, that we keep these parasites at bay.

In order to choose products with high effect and safety, please be guided by our nurses and vets, as we are aware of the downside of the older, cheaper and less safe products still on the general market.

Click here to order your pet’s parasite control treatment from our pharmacy

Read more about parasite control as part of the Pet Travel Scheme….


Common Canine Parasites in the UK


If you have a furry pet, soft furnishing and some heating in your house, you can easily have fleas there too. Once arrived, an adult flea can lay up to 30 eggs each day, and with a lifecycle from as short as 12 days. The numbers rapidly multiply…in just a couple of weeks there is the potential for one flea to increase to a population of 900 completing their own lifecycles…. And with central heating, they’re very happy to multiply year ‘round…

Approximately 97% of the flea lifecycle is completed OFF your pet, in the carpets, soft furnishings. So if you see any evidence of fleas on your pet – that is just the tip of the ‘iceberg’!

Did you also know that if a house has had fleas present in the past, then is left idle for up to 2 years, if an animal enters, the dormant eggs hatch out straight away, and Bingo, a big flea problem! So if you are moving house, check if any animals have been there in the past year. Take action if needed.

Signs of fleas:

You may well see nothing, because your pet is grooming off the evidence and eating the fleas. But you still have fleas in your household.

Finding flea dirt: This is digested blood. If you place it on a damp white tissue, it will dissolve into a pinkish brown stain.

Scratching, itching, excessive grooming.

So best to have a ‘no flea policy’ in your house. Treat your pet at the correct, regular intervals.

Click here to order your pet’s flea treatment from our pharmacy

Problems associated with fleas:

Fleas can cause the obvious irritation. A significant number of pets (and their owners) can become allergic to fleas, and so the irritation is multiplied, and can end up with large sore areas and fur loss, which require additional treatment.

Tapeworms can be passed on through grooming off a flea; these are worms that feed themselves in your pet’s gut.

Severe anaemia is seen from time to time, mainly in the very young or very elderly that have a large flea burden. They can be very dangerous and debilitating, needing additional veterinary care.

You can get bitten! The fleas would prefer your pets, but you’re still fair game, and some people react badly to bites.



Roundworms live in the intestines and feed on the gut contents.

In puppies, they can get them across the placenta before they are born, in their mother’s milk, and from licking any tiny deposits of poo from coats of dogs with worms. They can cause a puppy to be just less healthy; but if the burden is high, they can be quite seriously unwell

It is fair to assume that all puppies under 6 months of age will have some level of roundworms. And so they should be regularly treated. The easiest protocol to remember- is to treat monthly, using a product that is suitable for their AGE and WEIGHT.

We can provide the entire worming advice needed specific to your puppy’s needs.

At first vaccination, we can include a specific combined flea, worm and mite preparation free of charge.

Join our 608 Pet Health Club, and your worming and flea preparations are included at a discount

Adult dogs also have round worms. They can get them from grooming, coming into contact with other dogs, going to the park, or from your shoes. So even if they don’t go out, they are at risk. Adults can often live with their worms without showing obvious symptoms, but who would want them working away in the background, and it is important to address the Public Health issues.

Public Health Issues:

Visceral Larval Migrans: This is when roundworms enter a person, move around and cause damage. The classic example is blindness in a child due to a worm in the eye. None of us would like to be responsible for this. So keep up with regular worming of your pet, (and clear up after your dog) for everyone’s sake.

Click here to order your pet’s worming treatment from our pharmacy



These are similar to roundworms in that they live in the intestines and feed on the gut contents. The tapeworm segments can sometimes be seen as wriggly rice grains around their bottom or tail. Your pet is at risk at getting tapeworms either from ingesting a flea, or from eating raw meat such as birds, rabbits, mice and rats. So make sure your pet has regular flea control. And whether they choose to ‘supplement their diet’ or not, remember to worm them regularly.

Outside the UK, the types of tapeworms can be much more dangerous to ourselves, and so if your pet travels, you will be required to have him/her officially treated before coming home. Read more about parasite control as part of the Pet Travel Scheme….



Lungworm is a growing problem in the UK and is spread by infected slugs and snails and their trails. We see cases in our surgeries, and the numbers of cases are rising. WE HAVE HAD FATALITIES IN YOUNG DOGS.

The worms are picked up from infected slugs or snails, or their trails. So if your dog eats them, chews grass, or has a favourite toy or bowl in the garden, there is some risk. The larvae then migrate from the gut to the lungs where they are coughed up, and then swallowed. Finally to emerge in the faeces, to start the whole process again for another dog.

The effects of these worms are from moderate to life-threatening. Classically they can cause lung damage and a cough. But they can also cause haemorrhages as the blood can no longer clot properly, seizures and fatalities.  Be lungworm aware. We have products that HAVE sustained cover for lungworm.

At first vaccines, we can provide an initial dose free of charge.

In the 608 Pet Health Club, this is included at a discounted price.


Fox Mange

This is also known as scabies, sarcoptes and just mange. These burrowing mites cause the dog a lot of discomfort and will cause the dog to often scratch areas red raw! Affected dogs become progressively more itchy, scaly and bald and smelly. They can easily pick it up from other infected dogs or foxes, or from where these have been in the past 5 hours. So with the dog and urban fox population, it’s a bit of Russian roulette.

Sometimes owners can pick up these mites and you may need to go to your doctor. Remember to tell them what your dog has, otherwise they may not think of it. Avoid close, hugging contact with a dog with mange; this is especially important for young children.

Luckily treatment nowadays is usually very simple. It is IMPORTANT to be seen by your vet for diagnosis, as there are other different conditions that can cause similar signs, but require different treatments or further tests.

We use a specific ‘drop on’ liquid at the back of the neck. This can also be used as a regular flea and worming control. Our 608 Pet Club members have this included in their membership at a discount price.  Look how this could be of benefit today. Link to pet club



Ticks live amongst long grasses, especially in areas that house hedgehogs, sheep and deer. They jump onto passing hosts in order to attach and drink their blood. They often cause a sore raised lump up to 0.8cm across, which should fade over a few weeks. Larger reactions are seen, and may need extra attention.

The ticks can also spread other diseases such as Lyme disease in the UK and other serious diseases from the Continent. If your pet travels abroad, in the past you were required to have them treated against ticks prior to coming home. However, this has been be phased out as an official requirement (although you DO still need to have official treatment for tapeworms).However, we would still ask our clients to still do their dogs for ticks, as there is still the same risk to our pets and ourselves, just the regulations have changed. Read more about parasite control as part of the Pet Travel Scheme….

Ticks are not easy to remove without the correct technique or ‘tool’. You risk leaving mouthparts in the skin. We have found the O’Tom Tick Remover to be excellent and relatively easy to use. It’s cheap and it works. Remember to follow the instruction- TWIST, don’t lever out the tick. They are available from our surgeries. 

Other spot-on liquids have varying effects on repelling or killing tick. They can often take 24-48 hours to kill a tick. And recently, we have a new collar that treats for both Fleas and Ticks. Please ask for advice


Ear Mites

Ear mites do what they say on the tin! They live in your dog’s ears and are closely linked with the occurrence ear injections and generally dirty ears! Signs include lots of wax and discharge from the ear, head shaking and scratching at the ears. There are some preparations which protect against ear mites as well as treat them (to order, please click “here”). However there are lots of other reasons for the signs including allergies, infections and foreign bodies. So come and see your vet first, as delaying treatment for the other causes can result in unnecessary discomfort and stress. Contact your local surgery to make an appointment.


Less Common Canine Parasites


This is a mite that lives in the depth of the hair follicles and causes areas of hair loss or sore feet. It is more common in dogs less than a year of age, and in Staffordshire Bull Terriers. But it can affect any breeds and all ages. If it occurs in an adult dog, we usually look for additional problems that underlie the Demodex.

Humans cannot get this particular mite. (We have our own version)

There are many, many causes of hair loss, so best to see your vet to sort out which one is affecting your dog and what treatment is needed. Contact your local surgery to make an appointment.



This is a surface running mite that is more commonly seen in rabbits, puppies and kittens. It causes dandruff and irritation. We can take a simple sample to look at under the microscope, and then we can sort out the treatment.

This mite can also bite people, but once your pet is clear, your bites should go.



We occasionally see these, especially on spaniel ears flaps. Seek your vets advice and treatment.

Harvest Mites:

These appear as tiny orange specks on the toes or in a tiny fold on the edge of the ear flap. They can cause intense irritation and sores. Ask your vet for help.

There are other parasites that can affect dogs. If you are contemplating travelling or emigrating abroad, please look at our Travel diseases section for important information, before you go. Read more about parasite control as part of the Pet Travel Scheme….


Protection against Parasites

For specific, tailored advice for your pet, please talk to our nurses or vets.

Look at joining our 608 Pet Health Club to have all the common parasite control sorted along with your pet’s vaccinations with a simple monthly payment. Special Pet Health Club rates apply not only for these, but for diets, shop items, consultations, blood tests and dental work. Read more about the benefits of the 608 Pet Health Club


To order your dog’s flea and worming treatment please visit our pharmacy. Please note: Some of our flea and worming treatments are by prescription only and require veterinary approval.