The Dog Ticks shares a good number of parasites with its feline companion. Today, we will focus on the parasites that are particularly fond of our canine companions.
TOWARDS THE HEART
Heartworm is a strange parasite that spends most of its life in the arteries and veins of dogs and other canids. The larvae (immature stages) of the parasite are transmitted via the bite of a previously infected mosquito. Once present in the blood vessels of an animal, the thousands of microscopic larvae will mature for several months (up to 7 to 9 months) to reach an adult size of approximately 2.5 cm in length.
During their maturation, the worms will gradually migrate to the blood vessels that feed the lungs, then directly into the right atrium of the heart where they can begin to produce millions of young in turn. With the help of biting mosquitoes, a single infected Dog Ticks can therefore serve as a reservoir for the contamination of an entire neighborhood.
While the parasite was until recently considered rare in our regions, in recent years, several cases of infestations have been confirmed, among other places in the west of the Montreal region and near the border with the United States. It is therefore becoming increasingly important to know the risks associated with heartworms and to prevent their spread.
The results: Most dogs infected with heartworm do not show symptoms for a long time. These silent carriers greatly increase the risk of transmission in the population. The most frequently reported symptom is cough.
The consequences of these changes are dilatation of the heart and in many cases allergic bronchopneumonia. These changes can cause the onset of exercise intolerance, weight loss, syncope (momentary loss of consciousness), and death.
The treatment: When destroyed, the heartworm releases toxins into the animal’s body that can cause even greater damage than the parasite itself. The treatment of an infected animal is therefore not without danger and is often prolonged over a long period. When the worms obstruct the vena cava, it is sometimes even necessary to perform surgery to extract them directly.
Most intestinal worms found in cats can also affect dogs. Their modes of transmission and the consequences of an infestation are also similar (loss of weight, loose stools, vomiting, dull hair). Some of its natural behaviors can however make the canine species more at risk of contamination. For example, digging in the earth, stalking a trail by scent. Or eating feces facilitates access to large numbers of parasites in the form of eggs or larvae
They are not immune to the consequences of infestation on the skin. The itching caused by the bites can be intolerable and it is not uncommon to observe wounds caused by the animal’s claws and teeth. Bacterial infections can develop in these lesions and complicate the situation. Animals predisposed to skin allergies can also develop severe reactions to contact with some fleas.
The mechanisms of action of drugs used for the treatment of fleas in dogs are the same as for cats (oral or topical products). Caution, however, because some canine products applied to the skin contain active agents that are highly toxic to cats. If your dog is in contact with a cat daily, contact your veterinarian to obtain safe treatment.
Like fleas, ticks are parasites that feed on the blood of their victims to reproduce. As they attack different mammals during their lifetime (mice, birds, dogs, deer, man). Ticks are perfect hosts for the transmission of different diseases. Over the past ten years, due to global warming. There has been a large increase in the number of ticks in our regions. In the United States, dogs are at risk of contracting two diseases after a tick bite: Lyme disease and Anaplasmosis. Lyme disease usually does not trigger symptoms but can cause fever, lameness, and more rarely severe kidney problems.
Anaplasmosis can cause signs like Lyme disease, in addition to blood problems and neurological signs. These infections can easily be prevented by using preventive products. That will prevent ticks from attaching to the skin or killing them when they eat. In areas at risk, it is recommended to inspect your animal after walks in the long grass and the forest. If you discover embedded fully ticks on dogs, stay calm. Contact an animal health professional who can tell you how to safely remove the tick. It is recommended to inspect your animal after walks in long grass and the forest. You should also use a natural tick remover for cats or dogs to get the job done.
Even in our temperate climate, there is a multitude of parasites that threaten the well-being of dogs. During your animal’s annual examination. Take the time to discuss with your veterinarian to identify the risk factors present in your environment. You will be able to choose a treatment adapted to your lifestyle.