Making Me Itch! Fleas & Ticks

Making Me Itch! Fleas & Ticks


With the warm weather finally upon us, it’s time to take a moment to discuss the little pests that are associated with this lovely warmer temperatures. With this excitement it brings the dreaded pests, especially for our pets, ticks, fleas, mosquitoes and heartworm.

Ticks begin to emerge from their hibernation when the weather starts to become warmer, typically we see two major “tick blooms”, one in early spring and again in the fall.
  Ticks like to live typically in areas of tall grass, but can be found virtually anywhere, thus it may be difficult to avoid environments that harbour ticks.  Ticks cannot jump nor fly, they rely on a very sensitive sense of movement.  As soon as they feel movement they move quickly onto the particular host walking by.
When a tick attaches to a host, such a dog, cat or human, they release a substance that causes their mouth parts to be “cemented” in to the host.  Even if the patient is on a tick prevention, it is important to remove dead ticks as they may not just “fall off” after dying.
Ticks can transmit a number of diseases, such as Rickettsia rickettsii (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever), Erlichia, Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease).  These disease transmissions can take from a few hours to a few days to infect the host.
In Windsor, Lasalle and surrounding areas, there have been Lyme positive ticks and lyme disease carrying tick species found at Point Pelee, Rondeau Park, Turkey Point and Long Point.  However, we see patients and receive phone calls every week that patients have picked up a tick or two all over the region, even in their own backyards. During “tick season” it is important to perform daily tick checks on your pets and family, particularly after visiting areas that have a higher incidence of ticks.  The “good news” about ticks is that unlike fleas, when you have one, you have one; they do not multiply on the host or in the house. Tick_before_and_after_feeding

If you do find a tick remove it as soon as possible. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible with fine-pointed tweezers or use a Tick Twister and gently pull free.
  Wash the area of attachment with soap and water and monitor for inflammation and secondary infection (redness, irritation, swelling).
If you are frequenting these areas speak with us about what we can do to help prevent your pet from picking up these pests and contracting these diseases.

Unlike ticks, fleas can multiply from 1 to 1000 in a short period of time if not treated properly.   They can travel in on pant legs, shoelaces or other infected animals and become a problem.  Fleas can jump vertically up to 7 inches (18 cm) and horizontally up to 13 inches (33 cm)!This is equivalent to a 6 foot person making a jump of 90 m (295 ft) long and 49 m (160 ft) high!  Fleas begin taking a blood meal shortly after jumping onto a host.  After taking this blood meal, female fleas with deposit their eggs on the animal and as that pet moves around and scratches, the flea eggs will spread throughout the environment.  A female flea can produce 20 000 fleas in THREE MONTHS!  A while a person may only see one or two fleas on the pet, these fleas only represent 5% of the total problem; the remaining 95% are eggs, pupae and larva in Flea-Dirtthe household.
When checking your pet for fleas, the most common place you may see fleas are the hindquarters, base of the tail, stomach and groin regions.  Occasionally no fleas may be seen, however there still may be evidence of a flea problem.  If you see a tiny black “pepper” like substance throughout your pets fur, this may be flea “dirt”.  This flea “dirt” is actually flea feces of digested blood. To determine if what you are seeing is flea dirt or not, simply place the substance on a white paper towel with a little bit of water and smear it.  If it smears reddish or brown, your pet has fleas, even if you see no live ones on them.
Although the flea is tiny, some patients are allergic to the flea saliva and a single bite can cause them to have a reaction of intense itching causing sores and rashes (Flea Allergy Dermatitis) and if the infestation is severe enough can lead to anemia.  Fleas also can spread tapeworm to patients and carry several viral or bacterial diseases.
If you are concerned your pet may have fleas, or you would like to prevent them from getting fleas please speak with one of our staff members about the products we have and recommend.


Heartworm is a form of roundworm that resides in the heart and blood vessels of the lungs and is spread by mosquitoes.  When a mosquito takes a blood meal from an infected dog it ingests microscopic “baby heartworm” called microfilaria.  This larval stage of heartworm matures within the mosquito and is deposited into the skin of another dog the mosquito bites.  These larva migrate through the dogs body and reach the heart and vessels to mature into adult worms  6-9 months from the time of infection.  Adult heartworms resemble pieces of cooked spaghetti and can grow to be 12 inches long!
Most patients who contract heartworm show very little, if any, clinical signs, especially in the beginning of the disease.  If left untreated, the worms will continue to damage the heart and lung vessels leading to coughing, fainting, high heart rate, exercise intolerance, heart disease, laboured breathing, pale gums, coughing up blood and eventually, death.  download (1)
In southwestern Ontario, we have the most  number of positive cases than all of Canada combined.   This is due to our warmer weather and that many dogs from the southern United States enter into Canada here for rescues and homes.  For example, many dogs were brought here after Hurricane Kitrina and were heartworm positive.  Being a border city, we have to take into account the number of heartworm positive dogs just across the river in Michigan.  (Unfortunately, mosquitoes do not need a passport to cross over into Canada!)

Although heartworm is a treatable disease, it is easier and safer to prevent than to treat. Each year a simple blood sample is taken to run a heartworm screen (test) to ensure the patient did not contract the disease the year prior.
  Once we have a negative test, we recommend to place the dog on a heartworm prevention medication.  This is a medication given once monthly during peak times.  In our area this tends to be May to November although many clinics are recommending year-round prevention for patients.
To discuss your dogs heartworm status and the various types of heartworm prevention there is, please feel free to speak with one of our knowledgeable staff membersheartworm-map


For more information on these pests and the prevalence in our area you can check our our website or

If you have any questions or would like to talk to one of our staff members give us a call at 519-250-0099

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