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Ticks and Lyme Disease

Published by in External Parasites ·
Tags: DogTicks

What are ticks?
Ticks are a type of ectoparasite, meaning it is a type of parasite that lives on the outside of their host. While ticks will live on the outside of an animal, ticks bury their mouthparts into the skin, and produce a sticky, glue-like substance that allows them to attach to their host. Once latched on, the tick feeds on the blood of the host. There are various health risks associated with the tick. In very rare situations if your pet is afflicted with ticks, the parasites may consume enough blood to cause a deficiency known as anemia. Certain female ticks can also produce a toxin while they feed that causes paralysis, although this risk is also quite rare. As many pet owners know, the biggest concern associated with ticks is their transference of diseases, most commonly Lyme disease. Another example of a tick-transferred disease is Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Where are ticks found?
Ticks are most commonly found in woodland or grassy areas. The prevalence and types of ticks your pet may be exposed to can vary geographically. In Ontario, the most commonly found tick is the blacklegged tick, also known as a deer tick. Deer ticks are known to carry Lyme disease, although not all ticks are carriers of the disease. Ticks are most active in spring and summer months, but can be found at any time of year when the temperature is above freezing.
What is Lyme disease?
As mentioned, the most commonly associated disease with ticks is Lyme disease. The symptoms of Lyme disease will typically only begin to develop several weeks after your pet has been bitten by an infected tick. Symptoms include fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, loss of appetite, stiffness or joint pain and fever. In order to try and be proactive with treatment, it is recommended that you have your pet tested for Lyme disease after they are bitten by a tick. This test will need to be repeated approximately 4 to 6 weeks after the tick bite, as this is the time period Lyme disease will actually be detectable.

How can I protect my pet from Lyme disease and ticks?
While Lyme disease is a treatable ailment, it is best to prevent and protect your pet from tick-borne diseases. Preventative treatment can come in various forms, including topical and chewable. Your veterinarian can explain the difference between treatments, and recommend which one is right for you and your pet. Topical treatment typically will kill all major species of ticks through contact, prior to biting. Chewable treatments typically will kill the tick upon biting into the skin.
If you notice a tick on your pet, it may be difficult to remove the parasite, as ticks do an excellent job latching onto their host. It is recommended to take your pet to your veterinarian that they can remove the tick safely. Some experienced dog owner may remove the tick with a pair of tweezers, and pull upwards, slowly when pulling the parasite out. If you like, you may choose to keep the tick, so that you can bring it to your veterinarian to examine. To do so safely, place the tick in a container of alcohol to kill it. You may notice the area around the tick bite is red and appears irritated, this is normal. Keep an eye on your pet to monitor that the area of the bite heals, and also monitor for symptoms of Lyme disease. It is recommended to speak with your veterinarian if you find a tick on your pet, so that you and your veterinarian can appropriately plan and treat following the parasitic invasion.

Common spots on your pet where ticks latch

Dog Ticks



Published by in External Parasites ·
Tags: PetFleas
Fleas, Ticks, Worms, Oh My!
How to Protect Your Pet from Pests and Parasites
Cat Fleas
What are fleas?
Fleas are small, parasitic insects that feed on blood from mammals and birds. Adult fleas typically feed several times a day, through biting their host. There are over 2000 flea species globally, however the one that is most commonly found on our furry loved ones is the Ctenocephalides felis, also known as the cat flea. They are just a few millimetres long, wingless and a brown or reddish colour. While they are flightless, their back legs are designed for jumping, they are able to jump up to 30cm high, which means they can jump up from the ground onto your pet with ease.
Are fleas a serious concern?
Fleas are often thought of as just a nasty nuisance, but they can pose serious health risks to your pet. Since fleas will feed multiple times a day, your pet is being bitten multiple times daily, which painful, itchy and uncomfortable for your furry loved one. If your pet is persistently itching the bites, this can lead to skin infections and hairloss. Furthermore, some animals can become allergic to fleas, and then develop flea allergy dermatitis.  If an infestation of fleas is severe and persistent it can actually lead to significant blood loss, causing anaemia. A heavy flea infestation can be lethal, especially for smaller or younger animals. Some fleas can carry infections and other parasitic entities, that can infect your animal. Fleas may carry a bacteria known as Bartonella which can cause fever, rash, and swollen lymph nodes. Fleas can also carry a form of intestinal tapeworms known as Dipylidium caninum that absorbs nutrients from your pet’s digestive system.

Where are fleas commonly found?
Fleas are most active in early August to early October, but can be active year round. They thrive in well-regulated, indoor temperatures, and if one flea enters your home, it can likely lead to an entire infestation. So even if your pet lives strictly indoors, there is still a risk they can develop a flea infestation. The cat fleas will rarely bite humans, so you may not know you have a flea infestation unless you check your pets.

How can I tell if my pet has fleas?
To assess your pet for fleas, first examine them for “flea dirt” which is black particles the size ground pepper. This is the easiest sign to see of a flea infestation, since fleas themselves are often harder to see. But how can you tell if it is actually flea dirt? The most sure way to identify flea dirt on your pet is to rub or comb the dirt from your pet onto a white piece of paper. Then transfer the debris to a damp piece of paper. If the debris turns red or rust-colour this is likely a sign that it is indeed flea dirt. The reason the debris will change colour like this is because flea dirt is actually flea waste material, and the material will turn red when wet, as it is residual blood the flea has ingested from your pet.  Other obvious signs of a flea infestation is irritated, itchy skin.

Do fleas only stay on their host?
If your pet has fleas, unfortunately this means it is likely there are fleas inside your home. Since they are little travelers, often times fleas will be without host, inside the home, and able to infect your pet after they have been treated, or spread to other animals in the home, if the house is not properly treated. Vacuuming is important for getting rid of fleas, but you may also want to consider treating your home with insecticide as well. Make sure when you vacuum for a flea infestation that the vacuum bag is thrown out promptly, to prevent them from escaping and re-infesting the home.  To treat your pet for fleas, you will have to bring them in to your veterinarian to receive proper treatment. Even if you notice only one pet that has fleas, it is recommended that you have all pets in the home treated, since fleas can go undetected for quite some time and tend to spread quickly.
How can I protect my pet against fleas?
Prevention is the best approach to take when it comes to protecting your furry loved ones from fleas. Prevention can come in many forms, and can be available in pet stores or through your veterinarian. Although there are some good treatments available through pet stores, not all are effective, and therefore it is recommended that flea prevention is acquired from your veterinarian.

Tick-Borne Diseases

Published by in External Parasites ·
Tags: ticksTickBorneDiseasesLymediseasedogEhrlichiosisAnaplasmosis

Ticks are external parasites that feed on the blood of host animals such as dogs. Ticks are 8 legged parasites that belong to the spider family arachnids like mites and spiders. Rhipicephalus sanguineus  (The brown dog tick), Dermacentor variabilis ( the American dog tick)  and, Ixodes scapularis (deer tick or black legged tick): examples of ticks that commonly affect dogs, require  three feedings to complete their life cycles.
Ticks are visible to the naked eye and are most active in warm climates from spring through fall, they are living in grass and  wooded areas where they may attach to dogs playing on their turf. Tick infestations can be anywhere on a dog’s body, but commonly close to the head, neck, feet and ear area. It’s a good idea to check your dog regularly for these parasites particularly during the warmer months. Since it may only take a few hours for disease to be transmitted from an attached tick, take your dog to be evaluated by a veterinarian if you find any tick
life cycle of ticks includes  several stages – larva, nymph, and adult.  Species such as the Deer Tick can transmit diseases in their larval and nymph stages.
Ticks can transfer many disease to their host animal such as,
  • Lyme disease, transmitted by black-legged tick, commonly known as a deer tick, dog may not show signs of the disease until several months after infected. Symptoms can be lameness, stiffness, swollen joints, loss of appetite, fever and fatigue.
  • Canine Ehrlichiosis, found worldwide, infection caused by the brown dog tick. Symptoms may be noticed months after transmission, and can include loss of appetite, fever, weight loss, depression, nose bleeds,  runny eyes and nose and swollen limbs.
  • Canine Anaplasmosis, also called dog tick fever, is transmitted from the deer tick. Symptoms include loss of appetite, fever, lethargy, stiff joints, vomiting, and diarrhea. In severe  cases, dogs may suffer seizures.
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever cause by Rickettsia rickettsii  and transmitted by the American dog tick and  the wood tick. Symptoms include stiffness, fever, skin lesions and neurological problems
  • Canine Babesiosis is commonly transmitted by the brown Rocky Mountain Spotted FeverRocky Mountain Spotted Feverdog tick and the American dog tick. Causing anemia, pale gums, and weakness.
  • Canine Bartonellosis comes from the brown dog tick. Symptoms are intermittent lameness and fever.
  • Canine Hepatozoonosis is thought to be transmitted by the brown dog tick. Symptoms are fever, muscle pain, runny eyes and nose and bloody diarrhea.
In addition to all abovementioned tick borne diseases, ticks can also cause anemia, tick paralysis, Skin irritation and inflammation.
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Brooker Ridge Animal Hospital - 107-525 Brooker Ridge, Newmarket, ON - T: 905-898-1010
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