Springtime Parasites – Tick and Heartworm Prevention Season

Springtime Parasites 

 Tick and Heartworm Season

It’s that time of year again! The birds are singing, the rain is falling, the flowers are beginning to bloom. It’s also time for Edie’s annual veterinarian checkup that includes heartworm testing and flea and tick protection.

Springtime Parasites - Tick and Heartworm Prevention Season

Waiting for my annual checkup and heartworm testing

On this episode of Vet Chat, Dr.Ryan Llera discusses:

Ticks, lyme disease and heartworm

Do you know what time it is? Well, aside from longer walks, rain, Blue Jays games, and sunshine….it’s the season of bugs! Yes, April is known as Heartworm Awareness month and Lyme Disease Prevention month. That’s quite a bit to pack but they both are so incredibly important to our canine friends.

Springtime Parasites - Tick and Heartworm Prevention Season

Tick

Ticks are icky, and being from the same family as spiders, I’m surprised more people aren’t terrified of them. The most obvious and pressing concern is for the spread of Lyme disease. But in large enough numbers, they could give Dracula a run for his money – once, my team and I removed over 100 ticks off a Yorkie and it needed a blood transfusion to survive. There are a few other diseases that may be seen in other parts of the country but as the years go on, may spread to our little corner of Ontario.

Anybody can remove a tick. But there is a right and a wrong way. The ticks have barbed little heads and when they bite they make a chemical seal to cement their place in the skin. Improper removal can lead to broken tick heads staying stuck which leads to irritation. While in many cases the head will fester out, dogs in the meantime may chew or scratch at the area and can create a bit of infection. Tweezers in general are not the best tool to remove a tick but if you must, use pointed tweezers as those with a wide grip might crush the head/tick attachment. A better tool is called a tick twister with is like a mini-crowbar that is safe & effective.

If you thought ticks were bad, then you don’t know heartworms! Imagine a clump of spaghetti noodles. Now, imagine them squirming around…in your dog’s heart. Pretty gross sounding isn’t it? What’s worse is that it can kill your best friend. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes so naturally a warmer environment is going to have a higher risk but just like ticks, mosquitoes and disease can migrate. A crazier fact is that from the time your dog can be affected, it can still take 6 months for any potential signs or positive tests to occur.

Springtime Parasites - Tick and Heartworm Prevention Season

Annual heartworm testing

While both Lyme disease and heartworm disease are treatable conditions, wouldn’t it be much easier to prevent? Fortunately, your veterinarian has the tools to help keep your pet safe. As most ways of preventing these diseases start in the springtime, many pet owners will arrange a time to meet with their pet’s veterinarian at the beginning of the season when it is also convenient to have an annual exam done as well as any vaccinations.

Because of advances in science, you can choose how you feel it is best to protect your pet. There are both topical (spot on) options and oral chews. Both types have their pros and cons which should discussed with your veterinarian to give the best coverage against disease. So take this first step in helping keep your pets healthy and be proactive in your discussions with your veterinarian. Your furry friend is counting on you!

 

Vet Chat with Dr. Ryan LleraDr. Ryan Llera is a small animal veterinarian at the Kingston Veterinary Clinic in Kingston, Ontario. Though originally from Florida, he married a Canadian (who is also a vet!) and they share their home with 3 cats, 2 dogs, 2 horses, and a rabbit. Ryan is also a regular guest writer for the Ontario SPCA blog. You can find more of his writing at drryanllera.com or see what else he is up to on Facebook & Twitter.

 

Author: Kelly Harding & Edie The Pug

Share This Post On

26 Comments

  1. Ah yes, Flea & Tick season, what a joy. We use an oral medication now and we use it all year round so I don’t have to worry about when to give it to them. Thanks for sharing this important info!
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    Post a Reply
  2. Thank you for the informative post thankfully we dont have Lyme disease to deal with in India and have enough preventives against them in the market. However we dont have any preventives for heartworm here. I am glad Edie gets a check regularly

    Post a Reply
    • I wonder why there is not heartworm preventatives there?

      Post a Reply
  3. I love spring but, seriously, ticks freak me out! We are pretty fortunate that we don’t really have much of a flea problem and most heart worm-positive dogs come in from out of state already infected, but the ticks are pretty prevalent, especially out on some of the hiking trails, and as we have been having warmer winters, we are seeing an increase in heart worm originating here. I am pretty diligent about applying all-natural tick and pest repellents and checking the dogs when we get back from being outside and your post reminded me that I need to reorder the heart worm preventative.

    Post a Reply
  4. Not looking forward to tick season coming up! We have a twister key but I need to look for where I stored it over the winter.

    Post a Reply
  5. Very important reminders and information. Something we like to remind people of is that if the temperature gets above freezing ticks and fleas come back so it’s important to be protected all year long! Love Dolly

    Post a Reply
    • Protection is key!

      Post a Reply
  6. Nasty stuff. I’m lucky to be going on our 4th year with natural tick/flea spray with success! It’s such a great feeling, plus I use it on myself too.

    Post a Reply
  7. It makes me sad whenever I read about a dog that is heartworm positive, since they are pretty easy to prevent. We have lots of ticks around here and Lyme disease is prevalent in our area. One of my dogs is allergic to fleas, so I try really hard to keep my dogs protected against all of these parasites.

    Post a Reply
  8. Ticks creep me out! Even after growing up in the country and dealing with my share of them! Great article and solid advice! We keep on top of this with our Lyla.

    Post a Reply
  9. I hate hate hate ticks. They are the one thing that prevents me from basically living outside! We have a lot of ticks in Northern Virginia, so we always check both dogs and humans after spending any time outside.

    Post a Reply
    • Ticks seem to be everywhere now! It’s terrible that they are preventing you from spending time outside!

      Post a Reply
  10. Ugh, I didn’t know ticks were in the same family as spiders. That poor Yorkie – hope he was OK!

    Post a Reply
    • I just learned this about spiders too! *shivers*

      Post a Reply
  11. Hmmm I never knew about oral chews for tick prevention. My how times have changed. Nice post for bringing awareness on such issues.

    Post a Reply
  12. Thanks for all of the interesting information, and a reminder to prepare for flea and tick season. Do you have a flea and tick prevention that you prefer? We used to use Frontline and then a couple of years ago it stopped working.

    Post a Reply
    • I have this conversation with my vet each year and discuss the best options for Edie. Maybe your vet can suggest a product that would work better for your pets?

      Post a Reply
  13. One of th reasons I could not be a vet (well we can dream!!) is dealing with things like Ticks. Dr Llera is braver, thank you Dr. 😉

    Your post emphasises the importance of pet parent responsibility. Be alert to the seasons, be aware of what can harm your pet, this is VITAL. 100% critical for keeping a pet healthy and happy.

    Thank you for a brief and very important post – it is much appreciated.

    Post a Reply
  14. Ticks and heartworms… both so nasty!!! INSANE that you pulled 100 ticks off a dog once. Poor pup 🙁 Thanks for the reminder that we can all take preventative measures for both of these parasites so that our furry friends don’t suffer!

    Post a Reply
    • I think taking preventative measures is the first step in helping our pets.

      Post a Reply
  15. Fleas and ticks have become our biggest summer issues. The woods here are full of ticks and my terrier is a flea magnet. In fact, when I first ‘rescued’ (kinda took) him, he was covered.

    Post a Reply
    • Just the thought of fleas gets me all itchy! I can only imagine the discomfort they cause our pets.

      Post a Reply
  16. We go back and forth every year with the pros and cons of flea & tick prevention. We’re going to use the same method we used last year again this year… but I only give my dogs the tablets for a few months.

    Post a Reply
  17. The tick thing scares the heck out of me! My girl Riley has Lyme’s and it was horrible for her. We have already picked over 20 ticks of Cleo already this year…..we are just now researching repellants since we are concerned about the toxins. Thanks for sharing about the tick twister – I never heard of that and can vouch for tweezers not getting the whole tick out! ughhh….

    Post a Reply
    • Oh my gosh these ticks scare me as well! I’m so sorry to hear that Riley has Lyme’s disease 🙁
      20 ticks- that’s crazy! I hope you can find a product that will work for you.

      Post a Reply
  18. Ticks are very icky, and we didn’t know that they’re from the same family as spiders. YUCK! It’s so important to protect pets if they go outside.

    Post a Reply

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: