As a result of the warmer weather we’ve had lately, ticks are living year round. The Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) reminds pet owners to protect their animals from parasite borne diseases with proper testing and preventative treatments. Parasite prevention is safe, easy and economical when compared to treating a disease.
Ticks on Dogs
The tick parasite is already being reported by veterinary clinics across Ontario, with some confirmed cases of pets testing positive for Lyme disease. The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care reports endemic populations of ticks in many areas, but they are present throughout the province and can easily travel on a host, such as migratory birds, deer and pets.
Deer ticks are the only type to carry Lyme disease, and in some areas a high percentage of these ticks tested positive for carrying the Lyme disease bacteria. Early symptoms of Lyme disease usually occur within one to two weeks, but can occur as soon as three days or as long as a month, after a tick bite. Symptoms of Lyme disease may include: fever, decreased appetite, swollen, painful joints (animal may be reluctant to move), lethargy, swollen lymph nodes and lameness.
Mosquitoes are another parasite to contend with, and are known to carry a variety of illnesses including Heartworm Disease. Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition caused by parasitic worms living in the arteries of the lungs and occasionally in the right side of the heart of dogs, cats and other species of mammals, including wolves, foxes, ferrets, sea lions and (in rare instances) humans. A study on “Heartworm in Dogs in Canada in 2010” published by the Ontario Veterinary College’s Department of Pathobiology at the University of Guelph revealed a 60 per cent increase in the number of dogs in Ontario with heartworm since the last study of its kind was conducted in 2002. A simple blood sample is all that’s needed to test for heartworm, and preventative treatments are readily available to guard pets against infection.
The OVMA urges pet owners to contact their local veterinary clinic to determine the best level of prevention possible for their pets, according to their health, age and the risks in their area. Dr. Issam Kadri suggests treating a pet ahead of time with one of the various medications formulated to prevent ticks and other parasites from attaching themselves to your pet.
SOURCE: Ontario Veterinary Medical Association. Founded in 1980, the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association represents thousands of Ontario veterinarians in private practice, government, academia, industry and public service. Its mandate is to advance and promote excellence in the veterinary profession in Ontario, and contribute to the betterment of animal health and the protection of human health.