Although Edmonton is not crawling with dangerous insects, it has a high enough population that you should be concerned about parasite prevention. Ticks, for instance, prey upon dogs and cats in three out of four life stages, and are not as rare as we might hope (17 species at last count). Keeping pets safe from fleas and ticks through preventative care is very important. Our doctors are here to help you figure out how to protect your pets and ensure they stay happy all year long without unwanted passengers.
What is a parasite?
A parasite is an organism that lives on or in a host animal, consuming the food that is meant for the dog or cat … or sometimes even consuming parts of the animal itself. Cats and dogs can transmit parasitic infections both to one other and to your family, which makes it crucial you’re always up to date on parasite prevention.
There are many types of parasites. Among the most common are fleas, which bite and irritate dogs and cats and can cause allergic dermatitis, which may in turn cause excessive scratching or loss of fur. Fleas can also lead transmit tapeworms.
Heartworms are another common parasite, transmitted by mosquitoes and living in the lungs of cats and dogs. As the worms grow up, they can cause heart disease and respiratory problems that may be life threatening. Other types of internal parasites include hookworms, tapeworms, roundworms, whipworms and coccidian.
What can you do?
While ticks are still fairly uncommon, you should still examine your animal’s fur for ticks after they’ve played in tall grass. Edmonton does harbor dangerous ticks, which can transmit diseases to your pets, so it pays to be careful. Note that ticks are also dangerous to you, so you should wear gloves to perform the examination and use tweezers to remove any insects you find on your pet. If you do find a tick the best thing you can do is bring in your pet to us and we will remove it for free. Then we will take the tick and send it to the Alberta government for testing and can get results and let you know if your pet is at risk for lymes. If you do want to remove it yourself stop by our office and pick up our specialty tick removing devices sponsored by Zoetis.
Click Here to learn more about the Government of Alberta submit a tick program.
What can we do?
Unfortunately, even knowing the signs doesn’t always guarantee you can recognize parasites in your pets. The experts at our hospitals can help detect parasites through microscopic analysis and prescribe a course of prevention and treatment. Many parasites, including heartworm, are preventable and we will do our best to educate and inform you about how to best keep your pets safe from parasites year-round!