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The One About Parasites

A quick guide to ticks and fleas!

The sun's shining and everything's beginning to bloom, so you decide to go on a hike with your dog to enjoy the outdoors. You and your dog have a great time, but once home you notice a bug crawling around on your dog’s face. Eek - it's a tick!

Heading into the summer season it's important to proactively protect your dog from these potentially harmful parasites. But where to start? As you can see from the image above there are a lot of common parasites in Dogs, but we want to focus on just two: Ticks and Fleas. More information regarding other parasites can be quickly found here.


Facts About Ticks:

  • Known to carry a variety of potentially dangerous diseases; most commonly Lyme Disease

  • Not every tick carries disease, but the threat is real

  • Live in forests, wooded areas, shrubs, tall grass, and leaf piles

  • Active in temperatures above -4 degrees celsius (important to remember when we have warmer winters and edge seasons)

  • In Southwestern Ontario the Blacklegged Tick (a.k.a. Deer Tick) is most common

  • Latched ticks tend to be found in warm, moist, and dark places on a dog (i.e. ears, in arm-pits, base of tail, etc.)

  • Ontario Lyme Disease Risk Area Map 2021


Facts About Fleas

  • Can transmit several diseases

  • There are several species of fleas, but the one that most commonly dogs is Ctenocephalides felis (a.k.a. the cat flea)

  • Their flat body is designed to easily navigate through pet hair and they have legs designed for jumping great distances

  • Found on both living and dead animals

  • Have an irritating bite that can trigger an allergic response (i.e. dermatitis)


How to protect your dog from these pests?


Before your hike:

  • Keep your dog well groomed so spotting parasites post-hike will be easier

  • Apply a dog-friendly bug spray to your dog

  • Ontario Wild Spray

  • Homemade bug spray for dogs

  • Add a natural supplement or vet prescribed medication to lower the risk of infection if a parasite latches successfully

  • There are many factors that go into finding the best option for your dog, so do your research into the best option for you!

After your hike


If a tick is latched:

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible

  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal

  3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water

  4. Never crush a tick with your fingers. Dispose of a live tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet

If you discover a flea infestation:

  1. Sanitation - Clean areas where fleas breed (i.e. washing bedding, rugs, dog bed, and vacuuming carpeted areas/ along the edges of walls)

  2. Pet treatment - Give your dog a soap bath (or you can use a flea specific shampoo if recommended by a veterinarian), then comb them with a flea comb focusing on face, neck, and tail

  3. Home treatment - Similar to sanitation, however invite a professional to treat outdoor areas or purchase a dog friendly pesticide to apply

  4. Follow-up - Fleas have a complex life cycle and some stages can be resistant to insecticides and other flea control products. In order to get rid of fleas in all stages of the life cycle, two or more follow-up treatments within 5-10 days after the first application are needed


Don't Be Scared. Be smart!

All you need to remember is it's better to be proactive than reactive! If you do your own research into medications or homeopathic pest repellants that's great, but also set aside the time to do wellness checks after each outing with your dog regardless.

Now that you’re informed, interested in enrolling your dog in pack walks?


Sources

C. (2020, May 1). Tick season in Saskatchewan: Steps to reduce the risk of tick-borne diseases. Global News. https://globalnews.ca/news/6889090/ticks-precautions-lyme-disease/

Health Canada. (n.d.). Blacklegged (deer) ticks - Canada.ca. Government of Canada. Retrieved April 19, 2021, from https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/pest-control-tips/blacklegged-deer-ticks.html

How to Check Your Pet for Ticks | Healthy Pets, Healthy People | CDC. (n.d.). CDC. Retrieved April 19, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/publications/check-pet-for-ticks.html

Johnston, C. (2020, November 10). Homemade All-Natural Tick and Bug Spray (That Actually Works!). Wholefully. https://wholefully.com/homemade-natural-tick-bug-spray/

Preventing tick bites on pets | CDC. (2018, December 21). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/prev/on_pets.html

Public Health Agency of Canada. (n.d.). Risk of Lyme disease to Canadians - Canada.ca. Government of Canada. Retrieved April 19, 2021, from https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/lyme-disease/risk-lyme-disease.html

Tick removal | CDC. (2019, September 6). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.