Ticks have become a growing concern in Ontario in the past decade. A lot like very tiny spiders, these little pests feed on blood of mammals – that includes dogs and cats, rodents, deer, and humans.
Ticks are active when it is above 4°C. That means in Chatham ticks were active throughout most of February. Although March has been a little colder, we have still had temperatures above 4°C this month.
There are two main types of ticks in Chatham-Kent: the dog tick (Dermacenter variabilis) and the deer tick (Ixodes scapularis). The dog tick is larger, although still very small! The deer tick is much smaller, and the more concerning tick in our area. Both ticks can be found in wooded areas, or areas with tall grass. There are very large numbers of deer ticks in areas on the northern border of Lake Erie such as Rondeau Park or Point Pelee.
Of these two ticks, only the deer tick carries the bacteria that causes Lyme disease in both dogs and people. Once the tick attaches to its host (dog or human), it starts to feed on blood. As the tick feeds, the body gets larger and becomes engorged. The tick may stay attached and feed for many days. In this time it is able to transmit Borrelia burgdorferi – the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
At your pet’s annual exam or yearly in the springtime it is recommended to run a parasite screen. This parasite screen is a blood test that tests for Borelia burgdorferi (which causes Lyme disease), heartworm disease and two other tick borne diseases.
If you and your dog travel to areas with significant tick populations, make sure to tell your veterinarian so we can make sure they are on the appropriate prevention this year.
Fleas are tiny parasites that live in the environment but can be sometimes be seen crawling through your pet’s fur. Their bites can be very itchy, making your dog or cat scratch more than usual!
how did my pet get fleas?
The flea life cycle starts when a flea is brought into your home. This can be a flea that hitchhiked their way in on your dog when he was out for a walk, or your cat that strolls the neighbourhood. But it can also be from a visiting family member’s pet, or occasionally one you brought in from outdoors.
Even dogs or cats that only lounge in the backyard can pick up fleas and bring them into the house. All it takes for a stray cat or wildlife to walk through your yard and leave some fleas or flea eggs in your yard to start a flea problem for your own pet.
Indoor only cats are also at risk of getting fleas, especially if there are cats or dogs in the household that do go outside, or if you live in an apartment building where other animals in the apartment may have fleas.
Once fleas are in your home, they very quickly multiply. A flea will jump on a dog or cat for a blood meal. They then lay eggs. These eggs will stay in your carpet or furniture as they go through their life cycle as larvae and pupae. They mature again into adult fleas that will jump on your pet to continue their life cycle.
My pet has fleas - now what?
If your pet has fleas it is best to stop the infestation from continuing by using a flea medication for your pet. There are both oral and topical products available depending on your pet and their needs.
Once a flea medication has been administered to your pet, when fleas jump on and take a blood meal they will die instead of laying eggs. This stops the flea cycle! But there are also larvae and pupae in the environment the need to be cleaned up or hatch into adult fleas in order to be exposed to the medication from your pet that will kill the adult fleas.
To aid in the quick removal of fleas from your home there are a number of cleaning options:
When should I worry about fleas?
Our usual flea season is spring through to the fall. With the warm weather this year, fleas have been around most of the year. Don’t forget to continue your pet on their monthly flea prevention through the fall months. Often times this is one of the worst time for pets to get fleas, yet many people discontinue their flea prevention at the end of the summer.
Give the clinic a call if you have any questions about fleas or flea prevention for your cat or dog!
Weekends, Holidays and After-hours we are available 24 hours daily 365 days a year at our location for local service by your veterinary team. Please call our office in case of emergency.
Please note - Weekend, Holiday and After-hour service is offered only to current clientele who have not transferred their files to another facility and whose animals are a patient of our practice that has been examined by one of our doctors in the past 24 months.
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Egan Fife Animal Hospital