Now that the warmer weather is in full swing and many people are outside walking their dogs, going camping or hiking and letting cats outside, it is important to be aware of the risks of ectoparasites: a parasite such as; a mosquito, flea or tick that lives on the outside of its host, that may affect your pet or yourself.
These parasites may bite your pet causing irritation and potentially spreading various diseases.
Due to environmental changes, we are seeing more and more parasites in this area. It is important to check your pet periodically for problems (part the hair and look for bugs, eggs or dirt that may indicate parasites). When checking for ticks, don’t forget to check the lips/inside the mouth, ears, underside of the paws and under the tail. Some parasites may cause your pet to be itchy, so watching for more frequent scratching is also important.
Pets may be allergic to certain bugs so it is necessary to watch for discomfort, redness, swelling or weeping on a bite. If you do notice any of these things, please contact your veterinarian. An exam and/or medication may be prescribed depending on the problem seen.
If ticks are found, they should be removed right away to prevent spread of disease. If you are unsure how to do this, a veterinary staff member can assist. It is important to grasp the tick near the head and pull it out smoothly, to avoid any parts being left behind. Any ticks found should be dropped off at the nearest veterinary clinic, as there is complimentary government surveillance program to identify all ticks and test them for various diseases.
Mosquitoes can also cause discomfort. It is ideally best to keep animals inside during dawn and dusk (when mosquitoes are most active), avoid stagnant water and tall grass (breeding grounds for mosquitoes) and use mosquito deterrents such as citronella candles while outside, etc. Clothing can be used to protect short-haired pets from being bitten.
*Be aware that DEET mosquito repellents are toxic to dogs and cats and should not be used on them*
It is also important to check labels, as some drugs are safe for dogs, but would be toxic to cats if they have any contact.
If you or your family do have any concerns about parasite risks, please discuss them with a veterinary staff member. Also, be aware that if you plan to travel with your pet to certain locations, specific anti-parasitic medication may be recommended to keep your pet protected. Please call your veterinarian before travel for specific recommendations.