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Tick Season

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By Dr. Devan Boss

TICK SEASON

Temperatures are rising.  It’s a great time to enjoy the outdoors with your pets.  Its also a great time for ticks!   Ticks can become active at 4 degrees Celsius, therefore tick season in Alberta starts approximately mid-late April and doesn’t end until October.   

While tick bites themselves pose minimal threat to pets, some types of ticks can carry disease.  The most important tick-borne disease in Alberta is Lyme disease, which is carried by specific types of ticks.

LYME DISEASE

Symptoms of Lyme disease can include a “bulls-eye” rash at the bite site, nausea, decreased appetite, muscle and joint pain and a fever.  In 2018 only approximately 4% of all ticks tested in Alberta were positive for Lyme disease, therefore the risk of infection Alberta at this time is considered low.

PREVENTION

Using a monthly parasite prevention program can help decrease the likelihood of your pet contracting tick-born disease.  Speak to your veterinarian about what medications would be best for your pet.

Avoiding walking in tall grassy or wooded areas, instead stick to cleared trails.   Check yourself and pets for ticks after being outside.

TESTING

If you do find a tick on your pet, it is important to remove the entire tick, including the head that can sometimes get stuck in the skin.   If you are concerned about removal, contact your veterinarian’s office for assistance.  Your veterinarian can help identify the tick and, if applicable, submit it for testing to determine if it is carrying disease.    

If you are concerned that your pet is exhibiting symptoms of Lyme disease, or if they were previously exposed to ticks, ask your veterinarian about testing options for your pet.

 

Spring Awakening

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By Dr. Megan Forgan

The snow has melted, the weather is in the double digits, and the sun is shining. Spring has officially sprung! While spring brings with it many opportunities to get outside, and get active, there are also certain perils we need to be wary of as pet owners.

Pesky Parasites: Once the temperature consistently remains above 4*C, lots of different parasites come out to play. These range from internal parasites such as hookworms, roundworms, and tapeworms. To external parasites such as fleas and ticks. If your dog lives on an acreage, frequents off-leash parks, or loves to eat small rodents– they are much more at risk for tapeworms, and require a specific type of deworming product to keep them safe. If your dog loves going on adventures in tall grass or wooded areas, they are at risk for ticks, and should receive a monthly preventative treatment from May to October. Don’t forget about those cats! If you have an outdoor cat, they require the same type of parasite prevention as most dogs do.

Freaky Flowers: This one is for all you cool cats and kittens! If you have an outdoor cat, or a cat that likes to suntan in the backyard, you should be aware of what flowers you are planting. The most dangerous plants of them all are lilies, which can cause acute kidney failure in cats. Even a small taste or lick can be deadly.

Treacherous Trash: As the snow melts, it reveals with it a lot of hidden trash. Trash can range from being harmless to irritating to the gastrointestinal tract to being life threatening. It’s not uncommon for a dog to find a joint on the side of the road, eat it, and develop neurological issues very similar to what you would expect from a human who is under the influence of marijuana. It’s important to keep your dog away from trash while on walks. As well, if there is ever any chance that your pet may have ingested any type of drug, please be honest with us and let us know. We will not judge you, we simply want to help your pet the best we can.

Creepy Creatures: Nothing says spring like beavers, muskrats, and porcupines coming out to play. Beaver and muskrat bites can cause serious lacerations. Porcupine quills can get stuck in your pets. If this happens, your pet should be seen by a veterinarian to have the quills properly removed. Improper removal can result in the quills breaking below the skin-line, and becoming trapped, resulting in abscess formation. Quills are super sneaky, and can often migrate to the surface months after the initial attack.

If you have any questions regarding the perils of spring, and how to keep your pets safe during this time, we are open and are happy to help!