Summer is here! It is a time for outdoor barbeques, vacations, and hiking in the beautiful places of our amazing country. If you are headed out to explore the natural side of Canada, there are a few things to keep in mind for our canine friends.
Tick season started in the spring when the temperature rose above –4 Celsius. While not very common in the city, any place with longer grasses that dogs (or humans!) walk through can become a place to pick up hitch-hiking ticks. These insects climb to the top of the grasses and then stick out several legs hoping to grab onto someone walking by. Therefore, after walks down by the river through the longer grass, you should be checking your dog thoroughly for extra passengers. If a tick is found, simply take a hold of it and gently pull until it comes off of your pet’s skin. It is just an insect! And no, it will not willingly leave its head behind.
Once off, toss the tick in a container and bring it in. Ticks can transfer Lyme disease IF:
• they are the right species
• they are carriers of the bacteria that causes Lyme disease
• they are attached for more than 24 hours.
As Lyme disease can take months to manifest, and can be difficult to diagnose, it is good to know if your friend has been exposed.
If you are planning to go camping or hiking outside of the city, give us a call so we can find appropriate parasite protection for the four-leggeds in your group. Also with respect to hiking, packing water to share with your dog is a good idea, as is carrying a kit to clean and dress foot wounds.
Sadly, our pets can’t always accompany us on all vacations, and may have to be boarded. While we try to make sure all vaccines are up to date, computers are fallible, so please check the record that we send home with you. If you’re not sure, or have lost your copy of the vaccine record, please give us a call so we can help make sure your plans run smoothly.
And finally, a special note about Echinococcus Multilocularis. This is a tapeworm carried by coyotes, and is a risk for both dogs and humans exposed to coyote feces. This is becoming more of an issue with the growing boldness of coyotes in our communities. Eggs are shed the feces and are only 1-2 mm (not easily visible), and can survive in the environment for years. The best way to prevent infection is to keep your dog away from coyote feces. Don’t allow your dog to disappear in the bush to eat things. Discourage drinking surface water (puddles or streams when you camp). Don’t eat unwashed berries along a hiking trail.
When infected, dogs and humans get large cysts in their liver. Dogs, however, can get a differing form of the disease where they become shedders of the eggs (like the coyotes). Therefore, dogs with high risk behaviors (farm dogs with a lot of unsupervised time outside) should be on a monthly dewormer with the aim of protecting the humans in the house. This will not protect the dog from the liver form of the disease, but it can stop them from infecting the environment of the humans.
Cats can be a host of EM (through eating infected rodents) without showing any sign of infection, but they will not shed eggs like an infected dog can.
Parasites aside, summer in Canada is a beautiful time of year. Make sure you are finding ways to enjoy it safely with your furry/scaly/or feathered family members.