Ticks and fleas are a growing concern in Southern Ontario. With owners traveling to warmer climates with their pets and the changing migration habits of tick laden wildlife, we are seeing increased numbers of these pests.
Ticks and fleas are both classified as ectoparasites, which means that they live outside of the body. They take refuge within the fur of animals and feed on their blood. Owners should regularly check their pets for ticks and fleas, especially in the warmer months when it is above 4 degrees Celsius, and speak with their veterinarian about a parasite prevention plan. Outlined below is some basic information surrounding ticks and fleas. For more information, please contact us and one of our friendly staff will be happy to assist you.
Ticks are rarely found on cats, they usually prefer dogs as their final host.
Ticks in Ontario
The most common tick species we see in Ontario are Ixodes scapularis (Deer/Black Legged Tick) and Dermacentor variabilis (American Dog Tick).
Why are ticks a concern?
- Ticks are blood sucking arachnids – females feed by inserting their mouth parts into the host. Untreated tick infestations may lead to anemia, especially in young animals.
- The saliva of some female ticks is toxic. Prolonged tick attachment can lead to tick paralysis. Signs of tick paralysis include initial weakness/unsteadiness in the hind end that progresses to full body paralysis.
- Ticks are capable of transmitting diseases. The Deer/Black Legged Tick is the tick that is responsible for transmitting Lyme disease. This disease not only affects our pets but, it can affect humans as well. Your pet can be tested for tick transmitted diseases by performing a blood test each year in the spring. We routinely screen for Heartworm, Lyme disease, Ehrlichia and Anaplasma. A few drops of blood are pulled from your dog and the test is run in-house within minutes.
You found a tick on your pet. Now what?
If you find a tick on your dog or cat, it should be removed promptly and properly. Using tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull straight up. If you are unsure if all of the tick was removed, you should have your pet examined by your veterinarian. A blood test should also be performed to ensure that the tick has not transmitted a disease while attached.
Even if your pet only goes outside in the backyard to go to the bathroom, they are still at risk of tick attachment. All pets should be checked regularly after they go outside and all owners should speak with their veterinarian about a parasite prevention plan for their pets.
Fleas are found on both dogs and cats.
Why are fleas a concern?
- Flea infestation can result in flea bite dermatitis. Flea saliva is antigenic and irritating, which can lead to hypersensitivity and pruritus (itching).
- Fleas are blood sucking parasites. Untreated flea infestations may lead to anemia, especially in young animals.
- Fleas are the intermediate host for Dipylidium caninum (tapeworms). This means that fleas are capable of transmitting tapeworms to your pet.
- Fleas will lay eggs in your house where it is warm so, they will thrive year round.
You found fleas on your pet. Now what?
If you found fleas on your dog or cat, you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Your pet will have to be treated for at least three months using a topical or oral parasite product that treats for fleas and tapeworms. Since fleas and their eggs will be in the environment, you must treat your house as well. Carpets and furniture throughout your home should be vacuumed and blankets/bedding should be washed. You can also buy flea sprays that kill fleas in the environment. All owners should also speak with their veterinarian about a parasite prevention plan.
Feel free to give us a call today (519-893-8937) to schedule your parasite prevention discussion and your dog’s annual heartworm test!