How to tell if your pet has a problem with fleas or internal parasites

Our Clients often ask, “What are the tell-tale signs of parasitic infection in pets”. This is an important question, because as pet parents, you’re most attuned to your pet’s normal appearance and behaviour, you are the best person to pick up on those subtle changes that may signal that your pet is suffering from parasites.  The symptoms of a parasite infestation vary according to the type, number and location of parasites present, as well as the age and general health of your pet. 


External parasites like fleas, lice and mites are more easily recognized than internal parasites, because you can often directly see the damage or discomfort that they’re causing and sometimes, if you look hard, you may even see the parasites themselves. The most common sign of external parasitism is scratching, but you may also notice hair loss, skin thickening and wounds caused by scratching.


The most common symptom of lungworm infection in cats is coughing, and the symptoms of heartworm infection can include coughing, difficulty breathing, fainting, nose bleeding and a pot belly. Signs of an intestinal worm infestation can include reduced appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, coughing, a dull coat and a lack of energy. Unfortunately, while internal parasites can cause more harm than external parasites, they are often harder to recognize. This is because many internal parasites can infest your pet without causing obvious symptoms of disease until the infestation becomes heavy and the body struggles to cope.  The problem with this is that even light infestations with some parasites can be damaging or even deadly, so waiting until the infestation is severe enough that your pet becomes noticeably unwell before treating for parasites isn’t recommended.  Instead I recommend that pet parents get into the routine of using an effective parasite protection product regularly, year-round to protect their pet and family against parasites. When it comes to parasites, prevention is better than cure, so I recommend choosing a fast-acting, effective product that can prevent a parasite from taking up residence in the body, such as Advocate. Advocate is a monthly, topical product for dogs and cats which is the closest thing to a vaccine against Australia’s most common internal and external parasites.