We have had a long and cold winter but spring is finally upon us! Unfortunately, with the thaw, creepy-crawlies are coming back up on the radar. Pets are an important part of our family circle and naturally we want to protect our family, and children in particular, from needless exposure to internal parasites such as worms, and external parasites such as fleas and ticks.
Living in Alberta, thankfully, the prevalence of worms/fleas/ticks is not that high. However, the risk is present and increasing every year. The risk is even higher for the pets that explore in wildlife rich areas in and out of the city, hike in the mountains or travel outside of Alberta. Here, we compiled some guidelines to help our furry family stay free from parasites.
- Physical exams should be performed by a veterinarian at least every 6-12 months. This helps us monitor your pet’s weight and body condition.
- Make sure your pet is on a year-round broad-spectrum internal parasites control program, at least 4 times a year.
- Be aware ticks wake up when we have 4’C weather for 4 consecutive days, and live through September in Alberta.
- Make sure your pet has external parasite control starting in the spring/summer and prior to boarding or visiting shared-space animal facilities like doggy daycare.
- Pick up feces or scoop litterbox daily, and wash hands thoroughly afterwards.
- Properly dispose of animal wastes according to local municipal regulations.
- Cover play areas and sandboxes to prevent animals from soiling in them.
- If travelling to areas where Lyme disease is considered endemic or emerging, vaccinate dogs against Borrelia burgdorferi.
- Feed pets commercial or cooked food, and provide fresh water.
Normally, we will send you home with a year’s supply of dewormer at your pet’s annual exam. For flea/tick preventatives, we contact our clients in the spring as a reminder to pick some up at the clinic. However, if you plan on travelling during winter, let your veterinarian know so we can prescribe appropriately to protect you.
There is a new tapeworm that is becoming more prevalent in Alberta called Echinococcus multilocularis (https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/tapeworm-echinococcus-multilocularis-alberta-klein-calgary-veterinarian-disease-coyotes-dogs-1.5224864). While relatively harmless in dogs and their relatives, it can cause fatal tumours when they infect humans. Interestingly, there was a recent case in Edmonton where someone that did not own a dog contracted E. multilocularis (https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/parasite-cassidy-armstrong-tapeworm-alberta-1.5436828). Please be aware that the dewormer we prescribe does kill E. multilocularis, so this decreases the risk of transmission to you and your family.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at Edgemont Veterinary Clinic. We are happy to discuss this and any other topics in further detail.