Signs your pet has FAD (Flea Allergy Dermatitis):

We all know that fleas are irritating and unpleasant, and we’ve talked about the number of diseases they can carry. But did you know that your pets can also be allergic to flea saliva? This condition is called flea allergy dermatitis, or FAD for short. Is your pet extra sensitive to fleas? Let’s talk about the key points with pets affected by FAD. 

What is FAD?

Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is a hypersensitivity in pets caused by an overreaction of the immune system to flea saliva. In essence, pets can be “allergic” to flea saliva. Fleas’ favourite places to bite are around the head and base of the tail so cats and dogs may have allergic reactions in these areas causing redness, scabbing, inflammation and hair loss. There is often this characteristic pattern, but pets can be itchy anywhere on the body. Often, the changes are mild and can be resolved with treatment alone. But in some cases, the reaction is more severe. Strict monthly flea prevention is essential to avoid uncomfortable reactions. 

There is another secondary issue caused by FAD. When pets itch, bite and chew the skin, the normal skin barrier which acts as a protectant from the environment is broken. Bacteria and yeast (fungi) that normally live on the skin then have the chance to overgrow, leading to secondary infection. Owners may notice crusting, pustules, discharge, bumps, etc. These infections can also cause further itching and irritation and require additional treatment. 

How to treat FAD:

Pets experiencing these severe skin changes from FAD more than likely require additional treatment from the vet. This may include oral medications like antibiotics, antifungals, antihistamines, anti-inflammatory drugs, and immune system suppressive drugs, as well as topical treatments such as medicated sprays and shampoos. Pets who suffer from FAD may also experience other common allergies including food allergies and environmental allergies (atopic dermatitis), and may require further treatment. While pets tend to do very well with appropriate treatment, it is important to realise that the condition can become chronic if not treated quickly and appropriately. 

Top tips: 

FAD is a severe individual allergic reaction to saliva after a flea bite. These pets can be extremely uncomfortable as a result of the skin irritation secondary to the allergy. Veterinary care to treat the fleas and secondary skin irritation/infections that can arise is typically required. Parasite prevention monthly year round is essential to achieve success and a happy non-itchy pet! 

For more information about persistent flea infestations, check out our blog “Fleas Fleas Fleas – Keep Treating Monthly and Still Seeing Fleas”. In this blog you can find more helpful tips on how to successfully treat your pets, as well as your home. 

Dr. Kirsten Ronngren, DVM MRCVS

Why prevention is always best:

We often only seek medical advice or treatment to cure our pets once they have fallen ill. 

But, like with human medicine, prevention is nearly always better than treatment as it saves you time, hassle and money in the long run. Especially when it comes to fleas and ticks as you and your pet can get seriously ill from them. We found that not enough people are choosing to prevent rather than cure so the team here at VetBox sought to change things. 

Read on to find out why parasite prevention is better than parasite treatment!

Why prevention is best:


Fleas are irritating!

Imagine feeling itchy or like something is biting you over and over but you can’t seem to get it to stop. Pets with infestations are uncomfortable and often stressed as well. 

Fleas carry diseases that can make your pet (and you) unwell

Fleas can be the source of diseases like Mycoplasma and Bartonella in cats, and historically were known to be carriers of human diseases like the bubonic plague and typhus (yuck!). Fleas also are known to carry the species of tapeworm Dipylidium, and pets that ingest infected fleas will often develop the GI tapeworm. 

Ticks ALSO carry diseases that can make you and your pet unwell. 

While there is a long list of serious tickbourne illnesses known, one major one in the UK affecting both pets and people is Lyme disease. Lyme disease can cause acute illness in pets and people including fever, lethargy and joint pain. While acute disease can be managed, there are often long term health implications. 

Fleas can be challenging and time consuming to get rid of. 

All pets in the house will need to be treated monthly for at least a few months. You also have to clean the house multiple times to break the flea life cycle. 

Just because you don’t SEE fleas, doesn’t mean they aren’t or haven’t been there. 

Fleas are small and quick. Even just a few adults can cause irritation or spread disease. Females can lay 40 eggs each per day! Eggs can be seen with the naked eye but are even harder to spot. 

Some pets are actually allergic to flea saliva, and prone to a condition called flea allergy dermatitis. 

These pets have a more severe reaction to even just a single flea bite! FAD can cause major redness, hair loss, skin infections, and pain for your pets. While regular flea prevention is important for all pets, for those suffering from FAD it’s a must!

Costs of treatment for flea or tick borne disease can be immense and ongoing.

Flea and tick prevention will always be more cost effective for owners over treating existing disease. 

Owner costs at the vet for severe cases of flea allergy dermatitis can easily reach several hundred pounds per trip, and in more serious cases like cats sick from Mycoplasma or dogs that acquire Lyme disease, treatment costs easily can reach the thousands of pounds range. 

For more information about prevention, you can contact VetBox’s friendly support staff to help!

Periodontal Disease:

Dental disease is the most common diagnosis in dogs and cats over one year of age. Over half of pets are noted to have dental calculus (tartar) on their yearly physical examinations, and that percentage increases with age. Disease in the mouth doesn’t stop at whether the crowns of your pets teeth are clean and white, in fact, it can go much deeper. Let’s immediately jump to a huge dentistry concept and why it’s essential pet parents are in the know!

The most appropriate term used by vets is PERIODONTAL DISEASE

What is PERIODONTAL disease? 

Periodontal disease refers to the issues that arise associated with not just the tooth itself, but just as importantly, the structures that surround and support the tooth. This includes structures like the gingiva (gums), the periodontal ligament (connective tissues that hold the tooth in the socket), and even the alveolar bone (bone that meets the ligament in the skull). Approximately 50-60% of the entire tooth structure is located UNDERNEATH the gum tissue.

How does periodontal disease start?

Bacteria in the mouth release a “biofilm” which calcifies on the crown surface. This begins to form what we know as “tartar” or dental calculus. These bacteria also stimulate the local immune system and cause inflammation along the gumline. If this process progresses and bacteria continue to cause calculus formation and inflammation, these changes begin to work their way under the gingiva and start to affect tissue essential for tooth attachment. With time, the periodontal ligament and surrounding alveolar bone can become inflamed, infected, broken down and even abscessed to necrotic. 

Why is dental care important for our pets?

Periodontal disease is a common source of pain and infection in our pets that even the best intentioned pet owners can miss. Many pets continue to eat and act normally until the problem is so severe, that teeth need to be extracted. I’ve seen pets with teeth that are actually rotting out of the animals mouth and the pet is still eating. It’s incredible what our pets will persist through. These teeth can not only be extremely painful, but can also act as a source of infection and bacterial spread to the rest of the body, particularly for pets with other existing conditions like cardiac (heart) disease. 

How do I help provide the best care for my pets mouth?

Regular visits to your vet are important to get a look at the inside of your pet’s mouth. The best way to evaluate your pet’s overall oral health is with what’s called a COHAT (Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatments). This involves the same general process with what humans get at the dentist including an examination, full mouth dental x-rays, a full scaling/polishing, followed by any specialty treatments needed. Because our pets don’t like to allow us to look in their mouths, this is all done safely and effectively under general anesthesia by your vet. Some pets may only require a dental cleaning every few years, while others may build up tartar so quickly a cleaning is required every 6-12 months. 

NOTE: This process is completely different from what is referred to as “non-anesthetic” dental cleanings. Non-anesthetic dental cleanings are not recommended by vets for several reasons including safety/stress of the pet, the lack of assessing over half of the tooth structure (what’s under the gums), and the inability to smooth out the tooth surface after hand scaling type removal of tartar – leaving MORE grooves in the teeth for tartar to re-adhere to. 

Home care is just as important to keeping your pets mouth a happy place. The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) website provides an extensive list of safe and effective home care products, including treats that are safe for teeth. Home care should not replace full dental cleanings at the vet when indicated, but instead should be in support of/in addition to. Home care can include: 

  • Teeth brushing with pet safe toothpaste/toothbrush
  • Dental treats
  • Dental health foods, both over the counter or prescription
    • Hills Prescription Diet t/d tends to be a winner for me in both dogs and cats! 

To check out some of these veterinarian recommended products and tips, visit the Veterinary Oral Health Council Website: http://www.vohc.org/

A happy, healthy mouth is absolutely essential when it comes to ensuring your pets best possible life. Between home care, and using your vets expertise to know when full cleanings are warranted – we’ve come a long way in treating periodontal disease! 

Dr. Kirsten Ronngren, DVM MRCVS

The parasites you can’t see…

Most pet owners know about the common parasite offenders including fleas, ticks, and roundworms. These are the parasites that most commonly afflict our beloved pets and can be seen with the naked eye. But what about the parasites you CAN’T see? Did you know there’s a whole host of parasites that can affect your pet that you won’t be able to see without a microscope?

In today’s blog, we’re going to cover some important facts about MITES in dogs & cats.

What exactly is a mite?

Mites are a class of parasites not so distantly related to spiders and ticks. They prefer to burrow into the skin and cause irritation. Typically these small parasites can’t be seen without taking a sample from the skin and looking under the microscope. Mites are the cause of what many people refer to as mange, a condition classified by itchy, red skin. 

How would my pet get mites?

Most mites are directly transmitted from pet to pet, and are species specific. This means that mites typically have a preferred host (dog vs. cat vs. rabbit, etc). Mites may also be found and contracted from the environment.

What are signs my pet might have mites?

Pets with mites are often itchy! They can also experience hair loss, dry/scaly skin, redness, and irritation of the skin where mites have made their home. 

Are there different kinds of mites?

There are several different species of mites that can affect our dogs and cats. Each of these behave a bit differently, and can cause different clinical signs. 

  • Demodex: These mites like to bury themselves deep within the layers of the skin, particularly in association with hair follicles. Demodex is actually considered a NORMAL flora (normal organism) of the skin, however in patients that experience stress to the immune system, Demodex can overgrow and cause redness, hair loss, and dry skin. This is a common issue in young pets coming from rescues/shelters. Interestingly, pets with Demodex are often NOT VERY ITCHY! This differs from other mites. 
  • Sarcoptes: Also known as “scabies”, sarcoptes mites like to make their home in the superficial layers of the skin. Animals with scabies are typically VERY itchy! These pets can experience severe hair loss, redness, scaling, and irritation. 
    • *Note: Scabies also has the potential to be ZOONOTIC, meaning people can be infested with sarcoptes as well!*
  • Cheyletiella: This mite is also known as “walking dander”, because unlike our other mite species, owners may be able to see these mites on the skin. Cheyletiella mites can often be found on top of the skin wandering between hairs and resemble flakes of dry dead skin. Pets can be itchy and scratch frequently in response to infestation with this mite. 
  • Otodectes: This may be the mite that most owners have heard of. Otodectes is a common cause of itchy, red, waxy ears in pets. These mites prefer the nice dark hiding spot to set up their home in the skin of the pinna (ear flap) and deep down into the ear canal. Ear mites are common in dogs/cats coming from rescues/shelters and have previously spent lots of time outdoors. 

How are mites treated? Can you prevent them?

Mites can be treated with a variety of options. These include medicated shampoos, medicated ointments, spot on parasite treatments/preventatives, and even oral parasite treatments/preventatives. Treatments are safe and effective, and should be used under direction of your vet. 

VetBox Top Tip: 

Prevention and awareness are always best! Keeping your pet on tailored, appropriate, regular parasite prevention is recommended by the British Small Animal Veterinary Association and the European Scientific Council for Companion Animal Parasites. 

Dr. Kirsten Ronngren, DVM MRCVS

Zoonosis:

Zoonosis is the term used to describe diseases that can be passed from animals to people. I think in general people are aware that this can happen, but we don’t believe people realize the vast number of zoonoses actually out there. In many circumstances these diseases seem foreign or far away, but the reality is there are several of these that have the potential to be in your back garden, or even your home. The purpose of this is not to overwhelm pet owners, but to make people aware of these potential risks so that we can prevent problems before they arise. 

Let’s start by reviewing some parasites that humans can contract from their pets:

Parasite causes:

Roundworms: 

Roundworms in dogs and cats are one of our most common parasites. These species can however, if introduced to the human GI tract by kisses from your furry family member, can develop and migrate to other organ systems and cause issues. 

Hookworms: 

Similar to their roundworm counterparts, hookworms also don’t mind infecting people. These pesky creatures are known to cause the condition visceral larval migrans (larvae migrate to other organs in the body like the brain or the eye) and cutaneous larval migrans (larvae migrate just under the skin). This can cause serious consequences especially in young children.

Tapeworms:

Most tapeworms tend to be species specific, i.e. they prefer one main host like a dog or a cow. That being said, the flea spread tapeworm Dipylidium can infect humans and mature in the gut. Additionally, immature Taenia spp. tapeworm life stages can be found in raw or undercooked meat, meaning if you or your pet consumes these, risk for tapeworm infection is possible. 

One to note in this category is the species Echinococcus. This nasty tapeworm is the culprit behind hydatid cyst disease. While the dog is it’s preferred host, both humans and sheep can act as intermediate hosts and develop potentially life threatening cysts within the body full of immature tapeworms.

Scabies (mange): 

Dogs and cats can develop infestations with two major types of mites, including Demodex and Sarcoptes. While Demodex spp. Are not contagious, humans may become infected by Sarcoptes mites, leading to itching and severe skin irritation. 

Bacterial causes:

Lyme disease: 

This is most commonly recognized as a tick borne disease, however the symptoms are caused by a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. Borrelia can cause severe clinical signs in ourselves and our pets. 

Bartonella:

Cat scratch fever is actually caused by a bacteria. This can cause infected cats to develop fever and other signs, and can be transmitted to humans via cat scratch.

Salmonella, E. coli, and Campylobacter:

These are all bacteria that are not only a potential risk of causing GI problems if they infect humans/pets consuming raw or undercooked meats, but they can also be spread via the feces of pet bird species (including chickens).

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: 

Similar to lyme disease, RMSF is also spread by ticks and is caused by the bacteria Rickettsia rickettsii. This can cause rash, fever, headache, lethargy, etc. and can be serious. While uncommon in the UK, travellers coming back from Europe should be aware of ticks abroad.

Leptospirosis species

Leptospirosis spp. are a group of bacteria that are spread via the urine of affected animals, including dogs. If urine of an infected animal gets into the mucus membranes of another (eyes, mouth, nose) then clinical disease may occur. Signs of leptospirosis infection in dogs are typically general including lethargy, vomiting, fever, increased drinking or urination, and decreased appetite. Elevations in kidney or liver values on bloodwork are a concern as these organs are the target. Leptospirosis is currently uncommon in the UK, but is being diagnosed and is a disease you don’t want to get to know. *See later note on vaccinations in dogs*

Coxiella burnetii

The causative agent of Q fever, Coxiella is shed in urine, feces, milk, and birth fluid of ruminants (sheep primarily) and can then be spread to humans to cause a range of signs including fever, cough, vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. 

Fungal causes:

Ringworm: 

Dermatophytosis, better known as ringworm, is a fungal infection of the top layers of the skin. Canine and feline dermatophytosis is extremely common, especially in shelter/rescue scenarios because of large animals in close proximity. Puppies and kittens are often the source in humans soon after adoption. Ringworm can be spread between animals and to humans via direct contact or by contaminated surfaces. 

Protozoal causes: 

Giardia spp.

While most species of this protozoal organism tend to be species specific in terms of who they like to infect, it’s important to keep in mind that people can technically still become infected with Giardia from their pet. Giardia is a faecal “parasite” that comes from the faeces of another infected animal. More commonly people and pets become infected from the same contaminated water source containing faecal material while out hiking or camping. This is a common cause of vomiting and diarrhea in pets.

Toxoplasma gondii:

Many people have heard of Toxoplasma but don’t realize it. This is the organism that causes people to warn pregnant women to not scoop the litter box. Toxoplasma is transferred via cat faeces. Cats may show clinical signs of illness including neurologic problems, but they can also pass oocysts asymptomatically. If this parasite makes its way into humans, problems with the fetus in pregnant women may arise. A good excuse to make your non-pregnant partner scoop the box! 

While this list is nowhere near exhaustive, (think many, many more), it does list some of the more common diseases we see, especially those parasites that like to infest our companion animals. This reminds us why regular targeted parasite prevention is extremely important. It helps keep not only our pets safe, but ourselves and our families healthy too. Checking with a vet to ensure your pet is appropriately vaccinated is equally essential, particularly in the case of leptospirosis. Vaccination will not prevent exposure, but it will lessen the likelihood of developing severe disease as well as hopefully decrease the amount of bacteria shed. Not all zoonotic diseases can be kept at bay with parasite prevention or vaccination, which is why education and good personal hygiene associated (hand washing) with animal handling is a must.

What next: 

Making sure your pet is appropriately wormed and vaccinated for your/their lifestyle and location is an ESSENTIAL part of keeping our community healthy; pet and owners alike! 

For more information on significant parasites and zoonotic diseases, check out the following resources: 

European Scientific Council for Companion Animal Parasites

https://www.esccap.org/national-associations/UK+and+Ireland/11/

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control 

https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/zoonoses

Dr. Kirsten Ronngren, DVM MRCVS

The scoop on Ringworm

There are more than a few organisms out there that can be passed from pets to people. One we often forget is the fungi better known as “ringworm”. Also referred to as dermatophytosis, ringworm can be spread from animals to people in addition to person-person and animal-animal transmission. On today’s blog we’re going to go over the most important things pet owners should know about ringworm.

What exactly is ringworm?

Even though it’s most widely known as a “worm”, ringworm is actually caused by infection with a fungus. 

Ringworm in pets is caused by one of two species; Microsporum canis or Trichophyton mentagrophytes. Both of these are zoonotic which means they can also infect humans. 

How do pets get ringworm?

Ringworm may be spread in several ways, but most commonly is by direct contact with an infected animal or infection from contamination in the environment. 

Ringworm is a major environmental concern, as the fungus can remain viable on fomites (inanimate objects that carry an organism) such as kennels, blankets, toys, etc. for several months. 

Ringworm is more common in young and immunocompromised animals, particularly those coming from high volume animal situations such as shelters, rescues, etc. These areas are more high risk because animals are housed close together and in confined spaces. This is why ringworm is particularly common in kittens, as young litters are often kept together in the same confined space.

What does ringworm look like in pets? In people?

Typically pets will experience areas of hair loss with scaling/crusting. It may or may not also be red at the site. Sometimes lesions are so mild hardly any changes are noticeable.

Pets with ringworm may or may not be pruritic (itchy). 

While ringworm can be seen anywhere, the most common locations where lesions are seen include the head/face and limbs/feet.

People often get the more classic “ring like” lesion on their skin, but it may be as simple as a red circular areas. The lesions are also typically itchy, but do not have to be.

Can it be treated? 

Ringworm can absolutely be treated, though it takes diligence on everyone’s part. Lesions on animals may be treatable with topical therapy alone including antifungal ointments and/or medicated fungal bathes. These are safe and effective, but can be challenging to do for cats. Oral antifungals may also be used for more severe cases. 

Treatment often needs to be continued for several weeks.

  • Treating the environment is just as important. 
      • Ideally infected pets should be quarantined for the first few weeks of treatment to an easily cleanable area such as a bathroom/laundry room. This will localize any shedding of fungal spores. These rooms also have surfaces that are easily bleached. Ringworm in the environment is very susceptible to bleach based cleaners.
      • Clean any areas possible with an appropriately diluted bleach based cleaner.
      • Vacuum carpeted areas. 
      • Wash any common bedding/blankets that your pet has come in contact with in hot water.
      • Wearing long sleeves and gloves when handling your pet, as well as good hand hygiene are also essential to decreasing chances of becoming infected yourself. 

Can it be prevented?

Avoiding exposure all together is unlikely, so good hygiene and environmental management is key in these cases. While this also falls on breeders, rescues, etc., it is important for pet owners and new adopters to be on the lookout for signs of ringworm. 

Healthy adults are at low risk of infection, unless spores have access to an open scratch/wound. Those at higher risk include the elderly, children, and immunocompromised individuals.

What should I do if I think I have it?

If you believe you have ringworm, please do not ask your vet for treatment. Contact your doctor at your local GP surgery to schedule a consultation or to get recommendations. 

Does my pet have osteoarthritis?

Is your pet slowing down? We hear pet owners say this often, especially as our pets age. While we understand that some changes are inevitable with age, “slowing down” isn’t necessarily a normal change for our pets. Often the changes that pet owners see are actually caused by pain. The most common source of this pain is osteoarthritis. In this blog, we are going to talk about some key points for pet owners when it comes to keeping our pets with osteoarthritis as pain free as possible!

Why “slowing down” isn’t normal….

In many cases, this slowing down owners see is because of the chronic pain associated with osteoarthritis. These may be signs your pet is uncomfortable:

  • Decreased activity and sleeping more
  • Decreased appetite
  • Difficult with using the stairs
  • Hesitance/refusal to jump on/off things
  • Taking more time to get up/lay down
  • Behavioural changes – like not following you around

How does osteoarthritis cause pain?

The primary instigator of pain in pets with arthritis is inflammation. As cartilage becomes worn and more irregular, the forces acting in the joint space change. This wearing will cause progressive damage to the cartilage, which normally acts as a cushion with lubricant to help the joint move. When these features become diminished, abnormal force is applied within the joint and inflammation and joint capsule thickening occurs. Sometimes the surface of the bone itself can become irregular, form new bone fragments, and contribute to pain. 

What sorts of things predispose pets to developing osteoarthritis?

Being overweight is the most common contributor to developing arthritis in our furry family members. Excess weight adds extra pressure on the joints meaning more wear and tear over time. Certain breeds may be affected at higher incidences due to commonly bred joint conformation abnormalities such as hip dysplasia in large breed dogs (retrievers, shepherds, etc.). Prior trauma is another contributor. A common example of this is dogs that have torn their cruciate ligament in their knee. Because of the change in forces overtime, even if surgical repair is performed, these dogs are at higher risk for arthritis later on. Diet, types of routine exercise, and gender may also be contributing factors.

Don’t forget our kittens!

Cats often get forgotten in the world of arthritis, as older dogs tend to more overtly show signs of potential pain. Osteoarthritis is a major problem in overweight and older cats, and is frequently missed by owners. Cats may show the same “slowing down” type changes as dogs, but even things as simple as sleeping more might indicate pain. Sometimes older cats will urinate/defecate outside the litter box because it’s too painful for them to get into the box to go! It’s important to remember that cats are commonly affected by arthritis and may need joint support too.

How can I tell if my pet has osteoarthritis?

In conjunction with some of the signs at home mentioned above, a trip to the vet can help determine if your pet is suffering from joint disease. Your vet can check joint range of motion, look for pain on exam, and take x-rays to see if there are any visible changes to the bone itself. Sometimes x-rays may look relatively normal, but osteoarthritis is still present as inflammation itself is not necessarily seen on imaging. 

What can we do to support our pets joints and manage pain?

A few ways we can help support healthy joints earlier in life is by keeping pets at an ideal body weight, maintaining a regular exercise routine, and starting them on a joint supplement with glucosamine and chondroitin. In fact, we are more likely to support happy joints the EARLIER we start (i.e. before there are clinical signs of possible pain). This is particularly true for our larger breeds of dogs. 

As osteoarthritis becomes more progressive, with the help and expertise of your vet, the following may be used to help with joint disease:

  • Maintaining an ideal to just below ideal body weight to take additional pressure off the joints.
  • Monitoring daily behaviours at home and keeping a journal to better track any changes, especially if changes are becoming more frequent or worsening.
  • Regular low impact exercise is key, keep them moving!
  • Consider short daily walks, passive range of motion therapy, and water or hydrotherapy.
  • Anti-inflammatory and pain medications from the vet.

Don’t be scared of this one! If done responsibly and monitored appropriately by your vet, adding daily medication can significantly improve your pets pain and quality of life!

NOTE: HUMAN PAIN MEDICATION IS NOT SAFE FOR DOGS/CATS. Speak with your vet to determine if veterinary safe pain management is warranted.

Joint supplements can be excellent, and some of the following are used often:

  • Products that contain compounds such as glucosamine and chondroitin. 
  • Products that contain green lipped mussel.
  • Products that contain omega three fatty acids. 
  • Joint supportive diets, particularly prescription joint diets as these are specifically formulated to target joint health.  
  • Holistic therapies including physical therapy/chiropractic sessions, laser therapy, acupuncture, etc.

We’ve come a long way in managing joint pain in our dog and cat patients over the years, and pet owners are becoming more aware of the signs. This means we’re all on the right track to keeping our pets as comfortable and healthy for as long as we can!

Dr. Kirsten Ronngren, DVM MRCVS

Check out our other range of blogs here

Why vet care doesn’t need to break the bank…

A Look at Parasite Preventative Costs

We know that vet care costs can add up quickly, which can surprise pet owners who aren’t expecting it. Just like your pets food or vaccines, we like to think of parasite prevention as part of your normal planned “monthly pet budget”. While parasite prevention is essential to happy, healthy pets – it doesn’t necessarily have to break the bank. VetBox is on a mission to provide safe, effective, and cost conscious parasite prevention to as many pets as possible. 

Our baseline subscription includes a monthly pipette of flea/tick spot on treatment, and a dose of oral wormer every three months. 

For most pets, this combination provides good broad spectrum parasite coverage that is safe and effective. It also follows the current standard adult parasite preventative recommendations from the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) and the European Scientific Council for Companion Animal Parasites (ESCCAP). 

For cats and small dogs, our subscription cost is just £6.49 per month. This includes the monthly spot on flea/tick treatment, monthly treats to reward your furry family member for getting their treatment, shipping costs straight to your door, and an oral worming tablet every 3 months. We looked into some other subscription companies/online vet pharmacies and found that the same service cost anywhere from £10.50 up to £14.49 per month. Using VetBox means our customers are saving 40 – 55% every month. 

These cost differences are similar as pet size therefore monthly cost increases, and in some cases showed even larger gaps between VetBox prices and other companies. Our XL dog subscription (dogs weighing 40-60kg) is still just £9.49 per month.

We know that our standard subscription might not work for everyone. Some pets need monthly wormer due to higher exposure level/risk level, some pets need lungworm coverage, and some pets might need a change in how their treatments are given (think about your kitties that hate tablets). Our other options for parasite preventatives have also been shown to be consistently more cost effective as well, or at the very least equivalent to other companies or your vets office. That being said, ours also includes shipment straight to your door each month, making it easier for you and your pet!

There’s lots of options for parasite preventatives out there. It’s easy to get overwhelmed! Trust us, we’re all pet owners too and have gone through the struggles of picking the right preventatives for our own critters. If you’re looking for a way to appropriately protect your pet, be supported by a small dedicated animal loving staff, AND do it in an easy cost effective way – VetBox is your answer. 

Click here to start your VetBox journey today

Lungworm

It’s no secret there’s a new kid in town, and that’s Angiostrongylus vasorum, better known as lungworm. In all reality lungworm isn’t a new parasite to the community and its prevalence has potentially been exaggerated by pharmaceutical companies. That being said, this parasite can be dangerous and potentially fatal to your pet, so let’s take a quick look at what pet owners should know about lungworm.

The lowdown on lungworm:

Lungworm is a parasite that is found in both dogs and cats. They are species-specific. This means that dog lungworms (Angiostrongylus vasorum) infect dogs and cat lungworms (Aelurostrongylus abstrusus) infect cats. These worms are not spread directly pet to pet, but instead through intermediate hosts. Just think of the intermediate host as the middle man. The intermediate host needed for completing the lungworm life cycle is a slug or snail. Your pet may consume a slug/snail (or even just their slime), swallows the lungworm larvae into the intestinal tract, where they develop and migrate through the body. The end target location are the blood vessels in the lungs (+/- heart). Here adults develop and make more larvae, which are coughed up, swallowed, and returned to the gut to come out in the stools. New slugs/snails consume larvae and the cycle starts again. It has been documented that foxes are becoming a major carrier/spreader of lungworm. Foxes become infected the same way dogs do, and then larvae are passed in the faeces to infect more slugs/snails that then can be consumed by our pets. 

Pets at higher risk are those that spend a lot of time outside and like to explore. These pets are more likely to come into contact with slug/snail slime or to consume them directly. It can even be as simple as drinking water or chewing on plants that have small slugs or slime in them! Another common culprit are toys or bowls that live outside and have touched an infected slug or snail. Cases of lungworm in the UK have been documented in higher numbers in the south, though it is anticipated cases in northern England, Scotland and Ireland will continue to rise. 

Check for signs:

Signs your pet is infected with lungworm can be variable. It may be as general as weight loss, vomiting, and decreased appetite. This can progress to coughing and even bleeding abnormalities. Your vet can do a few tests to diagnose lungworm. These include a special faecal test called a Baerman funnel, a blood test called an ELISA, x-rays of the lungs looking for damage, as well as a scope of the airways to collect a sample looking for larvae. Treatment is variable depending on how severely your pet is affected. Hospitalisation is needed in some cases, and as mentioned occasional cases can be fatal. 

One of my mantras when it comes to medicine is, PREVENTION is key. Prevention is always better than treatment in lungworm cases. What many pet owners don’t realise is that there is not one wormer that treats all types of worms. This is why it is essential you discuss your pets specific needs/risks with a vet to determine the best parasite preventative for them. Many products out on the market that owners know as “wormer” will treat the most common types such as roundworm or hookworms, but not tapeworms or lungworms.

Tops tips to prevent lungworm in your furry friends…

  1. Assess your pet’s risk with a vet. VetBox subscribers have free access to vet support.
  2. Monitor your pets when outside (try your best to prevent them eating slugs and snails).
  3. Pick up your pets poo and clean outside toys/bowls. 
  4. Be on the lookout for foxes in your area (primarily their faeces in your garden).

Get in touch with the VetBox vet team to discuss your pet’s specific risks.

For up to date expertise on small animal parasites, visit the European Scientific Council on Companion Animal Parasites website at: 

https://www.esccap.org/national-associations/UK+and+Ireland/11/

Why getting a microchip for your pet is best:

In today’s world it’s easy to find lots of fun and creative ways to ensure the world knows they’re yours. Personalised tags with names, phrases, and owner contact information are available far and wide. Collars in colours and patterns range from rainbow to fine leather. While these are encouraged for recognition in case you find yourself separated from your pet, what’s important to remember is the most reliable way to link your pet to you is a MICROCHIP! Here’s why choosing the chip is best:

It won’t get lost:

Once a microchip is inserted, it’s in there for good. Microchips are made to be inserted under the skin using a needle on an application device. The skin heals over the small hole and the microchip remains in the subcutaneous tissue for the life of the animals. These won’t fall off like a collar, and can’t be easily removed.

It’s easy and cost effective:

Microchipping your pets is quick and can be done at the vets in just a few minutes. Registering the chip with your name and contact information is just as simple, and can be done in under five minutes online. Once registered with the company who makes the chip, you can log on and change your information. This is especially useful if you move house or get a new phone number. Microchip accounts also allow you to put in the contact information of your vet! The process is also cost effective. Many chip application and registration fees can be as little as £15, and only have to be paid once during the life of the animal.

It’s reliable: 

All vets and rescues/shelters have a microchip reader that allows them to scan pets that come in for a chip. If your pet gets lost, runs away, or is stolen and is brought to a vet or rescue, the first thing they will do is check for a chip. This then allows for them to contact the microchip company, and in turn for the company to contact you! What’s just as essential is ensuring that the contact information registered on the microchip is up to date. There are many occasions when rescue staff are unable to return a pet to its owner because the contact information on the chip is old or inaccurate. Having your pet microchipped and with up to date information is essential to getting your pet returned to you safely.

It’s the internationally recognised method of animal identification:

Ever wanted to travel out of the country with your pet? Then they will absolutely need to have an active, readable 15 digit microchip in them for identification purposes. These are required, and if not able to be read, your pet may be refused entry or kept in quarantine at your travel destination. This may also apply if your microchip isn’t upto date.

RELATED – How to take care of your pets in hot weather

For these reasons, we strongly encourage people to microchip their pets. It’s a safe, quick, and reliable way to ensure you have the best chance of finding your pet if they ever were to be separated from you or if you ever plan to travel outside the country with them. Be sure to choose the chip! 

Ready to take the stress out of pet healthcare? Start your journey here