It's that time of year again. Yes, the season we've been looking forward to for the past few months is finally here-SPRING! However, along with the warmer weather, blooming flowers and sunshine, come some unpleasant pests. Among these is the pesky mosquito, which among other things, transmits the deadly canine parasite Heartworm. This blood-borne parasite causes heart and liver failure, and causes disease in hundreds of dogs in Southern Ontario every year.
Heartworm infections are larval infections in which the adult parasite resides within the pulmonary artery (large blood vessel carrying de-oxygenated blood from the heart to the lungs). This parasite causes damage to the lungs, blood vessels, heart, liver and even the kidneys. Cats may also become infected with Heartworm, but it is much less common than dogs.
In addition to Heartworm, there are other important parasites that are common at this time of year. Fleas for one, continue to be a nuisance. One adult female flea can lay 40 eggs per day and on average, it takes as little as 3 weeks for eggs to develop into adult fleas! Fleas will undoubtably cause dermatological problems and similar to the mosquito, fleas carry unwanted pathogens. One species of Tapeworm resides within adult fleas and may infect your pet during a flea infestation.
Other important parasites include ticks, mites (sarcoptic mange for example) and various intestinal parasites (giardia and coccidia for example). As ticks may spread harmful pathogens like Lyme Disease, it is important to continuously observe your dog for any infestations. Notify your veterinarian immediately should you find a tick on your dog. Tick preventatives are available.
Testing your dog for blood parasites
For many reasons, Kingsdale Animal Hospital recommends yearly blood testing against blood parasites, specifically heartworm, lyme disease, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis. We use an in-house test that only requires a very small blood collection and yields results in 8 minutes! Call us at 519-896-0532 or email us using our quick contact form to books your dog’s Parasite Blood Screen soon! View our Appointment Hours.
How can you protect your pet?
There are many options to make sure your pet is protected:
SENTINEL®: A flavoured tablet given monthly to protect your dog against Heartworm, fleas and intestinal worms.
REVOLUTION®: A topical medicine applied directly onto the skin and administered monthly. This product will protect your dog against Heartworm, fleas, roundworms, one species of tick and some mites.
ADVANTAGE®: This medicine will protect your dog and cat against fleas. Administered topically on the skin and to be used monthly or as recommended by your veterinarian.
PROGRAM®: A single injection, lasting 6 months to protect your cat against fleas. Best to be administered in May-June or as recommended by your veterinarian.
BRAVECTO®: A chewable tablet given once every 3 months for the complete protection against fleas and ticks. For use in dogs only.
There are many other parasite preventatives also available. In discussion with your veterinarian, he/she will recommend a particular product for your pet.