Dr Magdoline Awad is the chief veterinary officer at Greencross Vets. Picture: Toby Zerna
Dr Magdoline Awad is the chief veterinary officer at Greencross Vets. Picture: Toby Zerna

Vet’s dire warning to Gladstone pet owners

PET owners in Gladstone are being called upon by veterinary clinics to ensure their furry friends are protected this spring after an increase in parasite cases during winter.

A recent survey conducted by Boehringer Ingelheim showed more than 40 per cent of pet owners were not properly treating their pets for flees while 60 per cent were not following tick prevention guidance.

Petbarn and Greencross Vets have revealed the most common parasite myths – including pet owners wrongly assuming pets are only at risk in the summer months, and puppies and kittens are too young to contract parasitic diseases.

Greencross Vets chief veterinary officer Dr Magdoline Awad said through COVID-19 the clinics had seen an influx of new pet owners who were not aware of the importance of parasite protection especially for puppies and kittens.

“Intestinal parasites can cause weight loss, vomiting, anaemia, blockage and if severe enough, cause death to pets, so it’s imperative to have an effective prevention in place,” Dr Awad said.

“With so much confusion around parasite prevention, we’re committed to busting myths and calling on all pet owners to make sure their pet is protected against parasites.”

Dr Magdoline Awad (pictured with cat Rexa) is the chief veterinary officer at Greencross Vets. Picture: Toby Zerna
Dr Magdoline Awad (pictured with cat Rexa) is the chief veterinary officer at Greencross Vets. Picture: Toby Zerna

Dr Magdoline Awad busts the most common parasite myths:

1. Parasites are only a risk in summer

“While fleas and ticks may thrive in warmer environments, they are very much a risk to your pet all year round” she said.

2. I can’t see worms, so my pets must not have any

“Worms live in your pet’s intestines and your pet will most likely only have worm eggs and larvae in their faeces, which are too small for the naked human eye to see, if they’re already contaminated.”

3. My puppy/kitten is too young to have contracted a parasite

“Newborn puppies and kittens have a weaker immune system and can be contaminated from their mother’s milk,” she said.

“Some kittens are even born with worms already.”

4. My pet lives indoors/in our garden, so they can’t contract parasites

”Not going outside does not parasite-proof your pet,” Dr Awad said.

“Simply eating contaminated grass, or licking shoes, can cause contamination.

“Humans can also unknowingly bring parasites into their homes on clothing.

“Parasites like fleas are very resilient and can lay dormant in carpet and furniture for months before being activated.”

5. Humans can’t contract parasites from pets

“Humans can contract parasites from their pets through contact with contaminated faeces, through saliva, coming in contact with areas that pets relieve themselves in, or something as harmless as getting close for a snuggle,” she said.

“Due to their rapid multiplication, a few fleas on your pet can soon infest your entire home.”

6. A single product can protect my pet from all parasites

“No single product can provide 100 per cent protection against all parasites so you must always use a combination of two products to keep your pet safe.”

7. I can give my cat, dog medication (and vice versa)

“No – though they’re just as adorable on the outside, cats and dogs metabolise some drugs differently meaning that while dogs may be able to be given a certain medication, the same medication could be lethal for a cat,” Dr Awad said.

“It’s essential that you read all labels very carefully and only provide your pet with medication specifically registered for use in their species, appropriate for their age and weight.”

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To help pet owners navigate parasite confusion, experts at Petbarn and Greencross Vets have developed a Flea, Tick and Worm Treatment Finder tool to help identify the exact combination of treatment pets needs for total parasite protection.

The tool takes into consideration the pet’s location as parasites in Australia can vary by geography.

Parasite Protection Finder for dogs can be found here.

Parasite Protection Finder for cats can be found here.



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