Warmer weather has arrived and we are enjoying the sunshine and all that summer in the Peace Country has to offer. However, mosquitoes, biting flies, ticks and all sorts of other little creatures have also made their unwelcomed appearance for the season.
In the Peace Region, biting insects are primarily a nuisance. Tell-tale evidence of insect bites are red, raised swellings or ‘bull’s-eye’ markings, especially on the underbelly. We all know just how annoying insects are, and these markings, along with the classic itch, are a sign that summer is in full swing.
If you have plans to travel with your pet to warmer places such as the Okanagan Valley, into the United States, or east across Canada, mosquito bites can be more than a nuisance. In these areas there is a risk of mosquitoes transmitting the parasite responsible for Heartworm disease. Heartworm infection can lead to the development of worms in the heart and lungs, and lead to heart failure if not recognized in time. The great part about this disease is that preventative options are readily available and easy to administer.
Ticks are another bothersome parasite, and we are all too familiar with seeing white, hairless moose in the late winter and early spring as a sign of ticks. Ticks are being seen on pets with increasing frequency in the Peace Region. Ticks crawl up tall grass, and as animals or people walk through this grass, are able to latch on where they will happily enjoy a blood meal if not removed. Ticks are often found on the face, behind the ears, and in the armpit area of pets, but can be found just about anywhere on the body.
Depending on the tick species and their geographical location, ticks can transmit a wide variety of diseases such as Lyme disease. The distribution of Lyme disease has been widening throughout Canada and the United States over the last few years. Dogs infected with Lyme disease often show no signs of illness. Those that do may develop lameness, lethargy, fever, or less commonly kidney, heart or nervous issues. It takes 1-2 days after the tick starts sucking blood to transmit the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease. However, it is very easy to miss finding a tick until it is full of blood, especially on our longhaired friends! It is much better to prevent attachment than it is to deal with the consequences of sucking ticks.
Various products are available for both dogs and cats to prevent bites from biting flies, mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, lice and various other parasites. Some products for dogs are highly toxic for cats, so be sure that you don’t treat your cat as a ‘small dog’ when buying products to protect your cat!
Ask your veterinarian which product is right for your pets this summer, as your lifestyle and travel plans will help decide which product is right to prevent the bite!
Dr. Corrina Jensen is a veterinarian at the North Peace Veterinary Clinic