One of the very common questions I am asked is about natural parasite control. The most common parasites we deal with are intestinal worms, topical fleas and ticks, and blood-borne parasites like heartworm. It is important to note that parasites, as a group, always tend to attack and populate the weakest and sickest animals, and are found in much smaller numbers in strong healthy animals. So the number one goal in managing all parasites is to keep your pet in the very best health, with a strong immune system to fight off parasites.
A natural raw food diet is an important tool to optimise your pet’s health, and to minimise worms and fleas. Dr Pottenger’s feeding trial in cats, from the 1950s, demonstrated that fed on raw meat they had far LESS gastrointestinal worms and fleas, than did the cats fed on cooked food.
I advise my clients to only worm about once every 6-12 months, based on lifestyle and diet. For flea control, I only advise treatment if fleas are present, not as a 12-month-of-the-year program. This advice may change relative to the flea season and climate. I also prefer to use a product that just treats fleas, not one that kills all parasites which can attack the microbiome (cause dysbiosis) and increase the incidence and severity of allergies and immune problems.
For ticks and heartworm disease, you do need to know your local area and get advice from your vet. Ticks are very dangerous, and you must have a prevention protocol, which includes daily grooming and checking for ticks, and the use of an effective tick treatment. Heartworm is not that prevalent in Victoria, but it is around, and gets nastier as
you go north.
Prevention is better here than taking chances, but again, you can choose to use a product that just prevents heartworm, rather than an all-in-one treatment (usually at a much higher drug dose rate than you need for heartworm prevention). Mange mites are another nasty parasite (e.g., fox (sarcoptic) mange), but here I don’t hesitate to use a conventional treatment like Ivermectin/Doramection. Management is near impossible to treat naturally, and is intensely itchy and uncomfortable for the dog.
As a summary, a good, balanced raw food diet, 6-12 monthly worming program, flea control only when and if necessary, and heartworm and tick control based on your local area requirements.
Try and use products that only target the parasite you wish to remove, rather than blind monthly treatments with an all-in-one parasite control.
Dr Bruce Syme BVSc (Hons), Founder, Vets All Natural
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