Category: Blog 

Fleas and Ticks

Are You Taking the Right Steps to Protect Your Pet from Fleas & Ticks?

With the beautiful spring weather upon us, many pets are spending more time outdoors.  This is wonderful for pets, as well as their owners, but it also exposes your dog or cat to common pests like fleas and ticks.

In order to keep your furry friend healthy and happy, you must maintain a clean and safe environment and pay close attention to any abnormal signs.  It is also important to bring your pet for regular annual or semi-annual checkups.  Fleas and ticks might seem like a mere nuisance and not cause for concern, but they can pose serious health risks for your pets.

Medical Conditions Related to Fleas and Ticks

Fleas and ticks can cause life-threatening illnesses such as:

  • Anemia
  • Tapeworm
  • Lyme Disease
  • Erlichiosis

It is important to understand each of these conditions, including how to identify symptoms, the causes, the risks and the appropriate interventions.

Anemia

Anemia is a deficiency of red blood cells in dogs or cats.  It is often caused by fleas, ticks, and hookworms, to which your pet can become exposed as they spend more time outdoors in the spring and summer months.

If you notice that your pet is unusually lethargic, it may be a sign of Anemia.  Symptoms to look for include:

  • Pale Gums
  • Weakness or Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Blood in Urine

Tapeworm

Tapeworms grow in your pet’s intestines, and, if left untreated, can obstruct digestion, leading to serious health problems.  Tapeworms compete for the nutrients your pet needs to survive. Fleas can transfer Tapeworm eggs into an animal’s digestive tract. Some types of tapeworms can be transmitted to humans; so proper treatment and prevention protects your family as well as your pet.

While it may sound unpleasant, it is important to keep an eye on your pet’s stools for signs of tapeworms. You should also be concerned if:

  • Your pet is trying to relieve irritation by scooting around on its rear
  • You notice dried pieces of tapeworm around the anus, which resemble rice grains
  • You find segments of tapeworm in your pet’s poop

Lyme Disease

The bacteria associated with Lyme disease, Borrelia Burgdorferi, can be fatal to your pet.  The main tick that carries Lyme disease is the deer tick (or black-legged tick), but other types of ticks can also be carriers.

Unfortunately, many animals show no symptoms of Lyme disease, so the best way to make sure your pet is healthy is by taking them to the vet on a regular basis.  Some signs of Lyme disease that may become apparent include:

  • Sore, stiff joints, particularly in front legs.
  • Shifting-leg lameness (limping that switches from one leg to another)
  • Fever, lack of appetite or depression

Lyme disease can be treatable but the earlier it is caught the better the prognosis for the pet.

Erlichiosis

Erlichia is another bacterial infection that can be carried by ticks, particularly the brown dog tick and the lone star tick.  As with Lyme disease, Erlichia is also a risk for humans.

Here’s what to watch for:

  • Your pet appears weak or lethargic
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty breathing or swelling of the limbs

Prevention is the Best Medicine

It may sound cliché, but the best way to keep your pet safe from all of the diseases associated with fleas and ticks is to prevent them from being transmitted in the first place.

Have your pet checked by a vet regularly to identify signs early on.

Some strategies to keep your pet safe include:

  • Using proper preventative medications will have a great impact on your pet’s fight against flea and tick infestation.  We can prescribe the most appropriate medications for your pet
  • Providing a clean environment for your pet
  • Ensuring your backyard is clear of fleas and ticks
  • Taking your pet for regular veterinary checkups and visits

Enjoy the outdoors this summer, and remember to keep your pet safe!

Our New X-Ray Machine

In this month’s episode, Dr. Slome demonstrates a new piece of technology that the clinic is using — the AllPro Scan X Quantum digital imaging system. Watch the video:

Video

The AllPro Scan X Quantum is a computed radiography (CR) digital imaging system. Unlike traditional x-rays, it uses a digital scanner to transfer the images to the computer screen. Staff can use the computer to magnify, contrast, zoom and create images that would have previously taken sometimes a half-dozen standard x-rays to produce. Currently this is the only digital imaging system with this ability.

Dangers of Lyme Disease

Is your dog at risk for Lyme disease? This all-too-common disease can have long-term effects, both for you and for your pet. Make sure you know what the risks are, and how you can avoid them.

What Is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is a disease carried by ticks and transferred to an animal when the tick bites. Borrelia, a type of bacteria belonging to the Spirochete group, is responsible for the disease.
When a dog gets Lyme disease, their joints become inflamed and they may become chronically lame. When left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to kidney damage and even damage to the heart and nervous system.

Lyme disease has traditionally been seen in small pocket areas in Ontario, but those areas are expanding, making it a growing threat in the GTA. The high danger areas in Ontario are Eastern Ontario, south of the 401, Niagara and Brampton, but pets living outside of those areas are also at risk. In the United States, deer ticks who carry the disease are common in New Jersey and New York.

Which Ticks Carry Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is most commonly carried by the Ixodes family of ticks (also known as Deer ticks or Black-Legged ticks). These ticks are hard to spot, because they are quite tiny when young, making it hard to protect your dog from bites. While this is the most common type of tick to carry the disease, research has now shown that several common types of ticks can transmit the disease. This is why tick preventative medications are so important.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease

In people, Lyme disease will create a “bull’s-eye” rash. However, in animals this rash is not present. Instead, pet owners need to look for other symptoms if their pets have been exposed to an area where ticks are common.

Recurrent lameness of the limbs is the most common symptoms of Lyme disease. This might be one limb only, or it may affect one leg, then a new leg a few days later, a condition called “shifting-leg lameness.” The joint may be sensitive to the touch or sometimes swollen and warm, and the dog may walk with a stiff, arched back.

If a dog develops kidney problems from the disease, the condition becomes even more serious. If the patient is not treated immediately it may develop into full kidney failure. Signs of kidney failure include vomiting, diarrhea, poor appetite, weight loss, increased thirst accompanied by urination, and buildup of fluid in the abdomen and limbs.

Spotting Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is often left undiagnosed in animals because of the way symptoms develop. Since dogs do not develop the rash, and the inflammation symptoms can develop weeks after the tick bites the dog, it’s sometimes hard to pinpoint Lyme disease as the cause. In fact, some dogs may have the disease for over a year before they show visible symptoms. By this time, the disease has progressed quite significantly, and treating it becomes more complicated.

If an owner or veterinarian suspects Lyme disease, it must be diagnosed using two separate blood tests. The first, an antibody test, detects the antibodies a dog’s body generates when exposed to the spirochete. The second test is a DNA test using the fluid from an affected joint.

Treating Lyme Disease

Once a dog has been diagnosed with Lyme disease, a lengthy treatment with antibiotics is necessary. Unlike other infections, Lyme disease is not easy to cure. If the infection has been in the dog’s body for a while, it will require several rounds of antibiotics, and often the need to switch from one to another is required for the treatment to be truly effective.

Danger to Owners

Lyme disease in a dog is not necessarily dangerous to the dog’s owners. You cannot catch Lyme disease from your dog. However, there is a danger to humans when a dog is carrying ticks.

When ticks become engorged and full, they will fall off the host animal. Later, when they need to eat again, they will seek a new host, they don’t care if their host is human or animal.

Also, your dog can easily transmit a tick to your home, and you, even if the tick did not actually bite the dog. It may just hitch a ride on the animal’s fur, then make itself at home in your home. Because of this risk, both to you and your dog, you need to make tick prevention a high priority in your household, especially if your pets spend a lot of time outside.

Preventing Ticks Is Not Hard

Preventing Lyme disease and other tick-transmitted diseases means preventing tick bites. This is not as hard as you might think. First, avoid letting your dog roam where ticks are common. Wooded and grassy areas are common places where you might see ticks. Next, if your dog is outdoors for a long time, inspect him for ticks daily, removing any by hand. Finally, and most importantly, talk to your veterinarian about tick preventative products and they can recommend the most appropriate option for your pet.

If you feel that your dog is at high risk for Lyme disease there is a vaccination available. This vaccine is especially important in areas where Lyme disease is common, but it should always be used in conjunction with tick prevention, because ticks can carry other diseases as well. Also, the Lyme disease vaccine does not protect you, as the owner, from ticks your dog may bring into your home.

Lyme disease is life-changing disease for both you and your pet. Do what you can to avoid it, and know what the symptoms are, so you can protect all members of your family.

What Can you Expect from a Dental Cleaning/Exam?

We recommend for your pet to have a dental cleaning/checkup at least once a year but, do you know what to expect when you bring them in for a cleaning? What additional measurements are taken during the dental process?

When your pet comes in for their dental cleaning/exam, be prepared for him/her to be put under a general anesthesia and incubation.  While they are under anesthesia we will be able to perform a thorough job.

In addition, your pet may also undergo the following procedures:

  • Pre-anesthetic Exam: This examination will include blood tests, urine tests, electrocardiography, and X-Rays. The point of the exam is to ensure your pet is healthy enough to go under general anesthesia.
  • Anesthesia Monitoring: While he/she is under anesthesia, his/her vital signs, i.e. body temperature, heart rate, and respiration will be monitored and recorded. This helps ensure that they are safe while under anesthesia.
  • Dental Radiographs: It is important to get regular X-rays done to have your pet’s oral health checked. X-rays also help us detect any abnormalities that can not be seen through a physical exam. An X-ray can also confirm if there is a need for any extractions when teeth are loose or badly infected.
  • Scaling and Polishing: Similar to our own dental cleaning, we will remove plaque and calculus from your pet’s teeth. In addition, polishing with a special paste smooths out scratches to the tooth enamel.
  • Fluoride/sealants: Anti-plaque substance like fluoride treatment and/or a barrier sealant, will help strengthen and desensitize teeth and discourage the development of future plaque.

Taking care of your pet’s dental health will help him/her live a longer, healthier life.

Do you Know What Periodontal Disease is?

Did you know that poor dental hygiene can result in periodontal disease? Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissue surrounding the teeth that goes through progressive stages.

Periodontal disease begins with plaque. When bacteria attaches to the teeth and dies, it becomes rigid by the calcium in saliva. Tartar is a hard, rough substance that is then formed which allows more plaque to accumulate.

Plaque is a huge issue that can lead to gingivitis, and inflammation of the gums. The gums will become red and swollen and be prone to bleeding. Professional cleaning is needed as plaque and calculus develop below the gum line. If the buildup continues to go unchecked, infection can form around the root of the tooth.

The tissues surrounding the tooth can become destroyed in the final stages of periodontal disease. In this final stage, the bony socket holding the tooth erode, and the tooth becomes loose. This can be a very painful process for your pet.

The good news is that these problems can be averted with proper dental care.

  • Fleas and Ticks

    Are You Taking the Right Steps to Protect Your Pet from Fleas & Ticks? With the beautiful spring weather upon us, many pets are spending more time outdoors.  This is wonderful for pets, as well as their owners, but it also exposes your dog or cat to common pests like fleas and ticks. In order to keep your furry friend ...

    Read more →
  • Our New X-Ray Machine

    In this month’s episode, Dr. Slome demonstrates a new piece of technology that the clinic is using — the AllPro Scan X Quantum digital imaging system. Watch the video: Video The AllPro Scan X Quantum is a computed radiography (CR) digital imaging system. Unlike traditional x-rays, it uses a digital scanner to transfer the images to the computer screen. Staff ...

    Read more →
  • Dangers of Lyme Disease

    Is your dog at risk for Lyme disease? This all-too-common disease can have long-term effects, both for you and for your pet. Make sure you know what the risks are, and how you can avoid them. What Is Lyme Disease? Lyme disease is a disease carried by ticks and transferred to an animal when the tick bites. Borrelia, a type ...

    Read more →