While fleas are annoying, ticks can be deadly. The paralysis tick occurs mainly in spring and summer in Eastern Australia, and is found in long grass and the bush. Tick protection isn't necessary for all dogs and cats, and depending on where you live, may not be needed all year round – your vet can advise you on the situation in your local area. No tick preventative is 100% effective, so you still need to check your pet every day.
Fleas are most common in warm humid areas, and while more prolific in summer, they are found year-round in many parts of Australia. Flea bites cause discomfort and distress through itching, and some dogs and cats can develop hypersensitivity or an allergy. Fleas also host tapeworms, infecting your pet if they eat them. Most dogs and cats need flea treatment – indoor cats may be an exception.
Dogs frequently suffer from infestations of intestinal parasites – commonly known as worms. The most common types are roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms and whipworms. Each different type of worm has its own specific lifecycle and can damage a dog’s health in different ways. Clinical signs of an excessive worm burden include: diarrhoea, vomiting, poor coat condition, weight loss and general lethargy. Some types of worms can remain in a dogs system and no outward signs of infestation will be apparent. Intestinal worms can be treated with anthelmintics (de-worming medication). Regular use of appropriate anthelmintics every 3 months is recommended.
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The key method to adopt here is one of positive reinforcement. Firstly, you need to show your pup the area where it should do its business, and each time the pup toilets in the designated area, immediately reward with a treat or verbal praise. In order to prevent mistakes from happening, it is important to both diligently supervise your dog while it is indoors and take it frequently outdoors. This will speed the learning process and prevent any accidents from occurring in the house.
During summer, a flea control shampoo and a flea rinse should be used. However, this should by no means substitute a proper monthly flea control regime such as Spot-On, Revolution or Frontline. Consult your vet or chat with the RSPCA's friendly vet nurse team for free advice on flea control for your pet. It's important to remember, after the application of flea treatment be sure to wait 24-48 hours before bathing your dog.
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The RSPCA recommends that you do not purchase a dog from markets or places where large numbers of dogs are kept for sale. Dogs sold from these establishments are very rarely examined by a veterinarian, and therefore may not be entirely healthy. Never purchase a puppy that looks unwell and if you are concerned about the welfare of the animal, contact the RSPCA Inspectorate.