After a long winter, our first inclination may be to throw open the windows, fire up the grill, and maybe catch a game of Frisbee with our best four-legged pal. And, just when we really begin to enjoy the spring weather, here they come… all of the parasites just waiting to feast on warm-blooded hosts, like our dogs and cats.
Couple the warm weather with the ample raccoon, skunk, and deer population we have here in Southern Ontario, and we are now facing a significant challenge in preventing fleas and other external parasites.
The Problem with Parasites (Other Than the Obvious)
Aside from the obvious gross factor and physical discomfort of a flea infestation or a plump tick attached to our dog’s backside, parasites bring an array of diseases. Since parasites aren’t picky, the flea that may bite your pet may have also been hanging out on a neighborhood raccoon or ravine-dwelling skunk.
Flea- and tick-borne illnesses are on the rise as cities spread into former wildlife habitat and as domestic pet populations – and particularly stray and feral populations – grow. In the Prairie and western provinces and states, a resurgence of the plague has been found in fleas, resulting from areas with high concentrations of prairie dogs. Other zoonotic (or animal-to-human) illnesses that are transmitted through parasites include ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
Alongside those irritating fleas and ticks are another noxious favourite: mosquitoes. The bane of every lake loving cottager, the mosquito carries with it a sinister disease among dog and cat companions: heartworm. Heartworm disease is especially dangerous in that there is no cure for our feline friends, and treatment for canines is complex and expensive.
Preventing Fleas, Ticks, and Mosquitos
OK, now that we have addressed the possible impact of parasites when it comes to both pet and human health, how do we deal with these springtime foes?
First and foremost, the most effective way to prevent your pet from vector-borne diseases is through the use of a prescribed parasite preventive. Parasite prevention provides the best possible safeguard against fleas, ticks, and other nasties, and can be safely used year-round.
At Summeridge Animal Clinic, we factor in your pet’s specific lifestyle, including international travel plans or increased outdoor recreation, when developing a vaccine and preventive program for him or her.
Other ways to keep your pet parasite free this season include:
- Keeping grass trimmed and clearing out tall weeds and underbrush in the yard, which is a breeding ground for parasites and wildlife
- Frequently vacuuming pet beds and blankets, as well as other areas of the home where is your is present
- Inspecting your pet for fleas and ticks any time he or she has been outdoors, or on a weekly basis
- Maintaining your pet’s grooming needs through weekly shampooing and monthly trips to the groomer (who often is the first to notice the presence of fleas or parasites)
- Preventing wildlife from using sheds, attics, chimneys, or yards as their shelters through professional, humane trap and release and by covering up all possible entry points to the home and garage
While it’s impossible to never encounter a parasite or to keep our pet free from every flea or mosquito looking for a meal, the serious illnesses and health complications borne from parasites are easily prevented through veterinary care. Help keep your pet and others safe by maintaining wellness exams and sticking to those important vaccines and parasite preventive schedules.
Please call us to schedule an appointment.