Ticks, Fleas and Worms

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zeta1454
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Ticks, Fleas and Worms

Post by zeta1454 » 11 Jun 2018, 13:05

There have been a few news items recently on TV about the increasing numbers of biting insects in the UK including ticks (which can cause Lyme disease in humans - a horrible debilitating illness). Discussions in the news items inevitably moved to how to prevent being bitten or infected and, strangely enough, no-one mentioned applying pesticides to the skin every month which seems to be the recommended practice with dogs! The advice centred on the information that not all ticks carry Lyme disease, that removing a tick safely as soon as possible and that applying certain scented insect repellents are the best courses of action and to seek medical advice if you start to suffer any symptoms that could indicate infection. How is it then that people are not encouraged to do the same with their dogs but rather subject them to potentially harmful pesticides that not only risk causing problems in the dog but also to the environment?

Fleas are an annoying parasite which again can be kept at bay by natural means in most cases in the UK and, if a dog does become affected, treatment applied then and there. How many people treat their children every month with a pesticide against head lice for example? Is it not a case of treating them if and when they are affected? There is a link here to a range of more natural products that can prove helpful for dogs:
https://www.myitchydog.co.uk/parasite-control.html

And then, worms - scientifically referred to as "helminths" which somehow doesn't sound quite as repellent. Most people with dogs will no doubt have seen the hugely magnified photos of various worms displayed in vet surgeries with the scare strategy marketing of regular medication to keep your dog free of these parasites. This is actually a much more interesting issue as not only again do we have a contrasting attitude e.g. with thread worms in human children (and adults) where treatment is if and when needed and advice on avoiding infection is more based on hygiene than monthly medication:
https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-an ... troduction

However, the more interesting issue around worms (helminths) generally is that these creatures have evolved over millennia to live in a host (human, animal, bird, fish etc.) and are by no means always a threat. Just as it is not that long ago when it was realised that many bacteria are beneficial to health and that maintaining a good balance of these "probiotic" organisms is essential to the immune system, so certain worms may play a significant role in maintaining health too. Any regular "de-worming" can disrupt good health and lead to a reduction in the functioning of the immune system. This has been studied in rats and humans with startling results:
https://theconversation.com/they-might- ... -you-49868

Obviously if a dog is suffering illness as a result of any parasite infection, it needs treatment and appropriate medication but to randomly "carpet bomb" a living creature with pesticide treatments that carry serious potential health risks just on the off chance that the dog might become ill seems totally out of proportion. All the scare stories /advertising regarding parasite infection originate from the pharmaceutical companies who profit from the sale of the treatments and what business wouldn't want to persuade their customers that they need to buy their product on a permanent and regular basis?

Fleas and ticks are visible parasites that do not stay on their host - if your dog is affected by either there is appropriate treatment which can be given. Worms are not so obvious so make sure that you know the signs and symptoms of infection and do a regular faecal wormcount test if you are worried. Our vet practice offers a regular wormcount test instead of regular "worming treatments" which has to be better for the dog and based on some kind of evidence but you can use the Wormcount service without going through the vet surgery and then, if necessary, get treatment for your dog at the vet once you have the report back:

https://wormcount.com/companion-animals/

Speaking from experience with dogs over the past 20+ years (numbering 15 dogs to date) I remain unconvinced that chemical pesticide treatments are needed on a regular basis in the UK and sceptical that this is any more than a marketing ploy by businesses to boost their profits. Make an assessment of your personal environment and circumstances with your own dogs but do not simply accept the hard sell of the pharmaceutical companies via vets and elsewhere that a product is needed unless you have the evidence to back it up.
Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole. ~Roger Caras

Magic - Silversocks Sharade at Darksprite
Trilby - Darksprite Rosa Bud

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Schnauzer Sam
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Re: Ticks, Fleas and Worms

Post by Schnauzer Sam » 11 Jun 2018, 14:29

Thanks for this post Leigh. It is an interesting comparison you make between how we treat our children and our pets. You would think we would take greater precautions with our children (even though our pets may be more loving and lovable) and yet we adopt a much greater conservative approach to their healthcare.

You've given me something to discuss with my vet when I next have Rosie there.
You're never alone when you own a schnauzer

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zeta1454
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Posts: 3596
Joined: 19 May 2011, 16:58
First Name: Leigh
Dog #1: Magic
is a: P/S Mini Bitch
Born: 20 Apr 2010
Dog #2: Trilby
is a: P/S Mini Bitch
Born: 15 Mar 2012
Dog #3: Pip
Born: 21 Feb 2014
is a: P/S Mini Bitch
Location: North Yorkshire

Re: Ticks, Fleas and Worms

Post by zeta1454 » 11 Jun 2018, 17:39

I think the "conservative approach" is the safer one which is why children and adult humans are not needlessly exposed to products which could cause harm. There are interesting comparisons with vaccinations of course too in that the NHS states that...
"Because a live vaccine is the closest thing to a natural infection, it typically produces a strong immune response and often gives lifelong protection."

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinati ... gredients/

The vaccines given to dogs for Distemper; Hepatitis; Parvovirus etc. are also live vaccines and yet people are told they need to revaccinate their dogs with these annually or triennally whereas this is (rightly so ) not advised for people with e.g. MMR and BCG
The WSAVA Vaccination Guidelines agree with the NHS that modified live vaccines do provide long term if not lifetime protection for dogs too but somehow too many vet practices turn a blind eye to the recommendations.

With Leptospirosis which is a bacterial disease which humans are also vulnerable to contracting, vaccines are not offered to people in the UK because the vaccine is so short lived and not considered safe and yet it's OK for dogs (?) The following from an academic journal:
"Prophylaxis is not recommended in the UK as leptospirosis is still an uncommon disease and the risk of side effects from antibiotics does not justify their use. However, it is recommended for individuals who may be unavoidably in contact with rodents or working in water and far from medical help (i.e. disaster-zone aid workers, military personnel). In this case, the recommended drug is doxycycline at a dose of 200 mg weekly, starting 1 or 2 days before exposure and continuing while still in the high-risk situation."

However, a safe vaccine for humans has yet to be found, as whole leptospire-based vaccines have unacceptably high levels of side effects in humans. Additionally, the protection provided was short lived and the immunity acquired is serovar-specific....The wide variety of pathogenic serovars and complex immunology involved in the response to these bacteria means vaccine design is an ongoing challenge.."

The whole article is here:
https://academic.oup.com/qjmed/article/ ... 8#22507234

And the NHS website advocates treatment with antibiotics if infected as the most effective approach:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/leptospirosis/

It seems to me that where animals are concerned, risks of "prophylactic" treatments are regarded as less significant - maybe because unlike with people there is no tax payer funded compensation payment scheme for adverse reactions to vaccines/medication?
Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole. ~Roger Caras

Magic - Silversocks Sharade at Darksprite
Trilby - Darksprite Rosa Bud

User avatar
zeta1454
Moderator
Posts: 3596
Joined: 19 May 2011, 16:58
First Name: Leigh
Dog #1: Magic
is a: P/S Mini Bitch
Born: 20 Apr 2010
Dog #2: Trilby
is a: P/S Mini Bitch
Born: 15 Mar 2012
Dog #3: Pip
Born: 21 Feb 2014
is a: P/S Mini Bitch
Location: North Yorkshire

Re: Ticks, Fleas and Worms

Post by zeta1454 » 03 Jul 2018, 12:20

For anyone wanting more background on the subject, do have a read of this interesting and informative article by a UK vet which covers many of the issues that worry me re the overuse of chemical anti-parasite treatments:

http://www.bahvs.com/peticide-a-systemic-destruction/
Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole. ~Roger Caras

Magic - Silversocks Sharade at Darksprite
Trilby - Darksprite Rosa Bud

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