Winter in Southern Ontario is always unpredictable, but as spring approaches, we’ll be glad to retire from this particularly wacky winter! While most of us grumbled through November to April, some devious members of our community flourished in the up-and-down weather: parasites.
Although there are many types of common parasites that affect our furry family members, the three that are highlighted this time of year are fleas, ticks, and heartworm.
Fleas cause extreme discomfort (and eventually blood loss and anaemia) by infesting and biting the host, and can also carry intestinal parasites such as tapeworm. Ticks come in many varieties which each transmit different diseases by burrowing in their host to feed, but they are best known for transmitting Lyme disease. Heartworm is a long roundworm transmitted by mosquitoes. It lives in and around the heart, causing heart failure and damage to other organs.
These three have long been labelled as “seasonal” pests. However, fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes don’t go away on winter holiday, they lay dormant in the cold awaiting mild weather. This means that during winters (such as our last) when temperatures fluctuate above freezing, they can be out transmitting deadly and dangerous diseases when pet parents are least expecting.
Additionally, these pests are incredibly adaptive. In fact, your pet doesn’t even have to go outdoors to be at risk, as parasites can thrive undetected in homes, baseboards, and entire apartment buildings year-round.
Most pet parents visit their veterinarians in the spring for an exam and six months of parasite prevention. With these consistently inconsistent winters, we recommend asking your veterinarian if year-round prevention may be right for you.
Every furry family member is unique, though, and preventative isn’t one-size-fits-all. There’s a lot to consider, such as geography, weight, and if there are other pets in the household. With a broad spectrum of parasites and very convincing knock-off brands on the market, it can be difficult to choose a safe and effective option. Your veterinarian is always the best resource to help you find the ideal products for your pet’s protection.
With a personalized parasite prevention plan, you can relax and enjoy all your favourite activities together, knowing your pet is protected – no matter what the weather may be!
Dr. I. Wonder is here to answer your questions regarding your furry family members. If you have a question, email it to us at danielle@NeighbourhoodPetClinic.com. Our team at Neighbourhood Pet Clinic will tap into their collective experience to answer your various questions.