We’re happy to report that its that time of year again when the weather starts to become more agreeable, the grass becomes green, the buds on the trees start sprouting and people and their pets start to enjoy the warmer weather by staying outside more and participating in outdoor activities. This is also the time when pet owners have to become more vigilant as there are a number of nasty little diseases carried by insects and other creatures that can affect both you and your pets. One these pesky problems is the heartworm parasite that is carried by mosquitoes. If your pet is bitten by one of these infected flying pests, and it is carrying the heartworm parasite, it will adversely affect your pet’s health. A dog infected with heartworm can die either from the infection itself or the cure which is quite severe in nature. That is why we heartily advise and recommend that every dog be tested for heartworm and placed on a heartworm preventative every summer starting in June until November. The cost is minimal compared to the cost of treating the disease.
However, heartworm is not the only parasite lurking in the woods these days. We are finding that more and more cases are arising where dogs are bitten by another parasite which can also leave a set of nasty diseases. The newest (although they are not exactly new) problem arriving in our area are creatures known as ticks. Ticks are almost microscopic insects that feed on the blood of their hosts by injecting their snout into their victims. They can feed for about two weeks and then fall off to breed and reproduce. They are mainly situated in the undergrowth of wooded areas or grassy knolls along trails or in backyards that are not regularly tended with grass cutters. There are 4 different types of ticks and each is known for carrying a number of different diseases. Some of these diseases are very serious and some are not so much. Ticks are not just a problem for dogs and cats, they are also known to attach themselves to humans and some of these diseases can affect humans as well as dogs. One common and scary disease which can affect humans and dogs is lyme disease. Dogs are actually sentinels for humans. Only 5% of dogs who are bitten by a tick carrying the Lyme bacteria will contract the disease. However, 80% of humans who are bitten by a tick carrying Lyme disease will contract the disease. So this disease is far more serious to humans.
To prevent your dog from being bitten by a tick, we at the Summeridge Animal Clinic, your Thornhill/Vaughan Veterinary Clinic suggest a number of recommendations:
1) Keep you dog away from tall grasses
2) Mow your lawn frequently and rake the leaves often
3) Stack any wood that you have for your fireplaces neatly and in a dry area
4) Make sure you have a 3ft wide barrier of either woodchips or gravel between your property and any wooded areas
If you think your pets may have fleas or been exposed to heartworm, schedule an appointment with Summeridge Animal Clinic today!