Information Spotlight

TICKS

tickThe tick population in Ontario has been growing and is expected to exponentially grow over the next few years as a result of climate change. Ticks travel by clinging to birds and deer. There are many species of ticks that live in Ontario.  The American dog tick and the blacklegged or deer tick are the ticks most likely to be acquired by dogs; however, other ticks may be detected, particularly on animals that travel. Every spring there is a “bloom” or increase in tick numbers. Ticks arrive in Ontario on migrating birds, and some ticks overwinter and emerge to feed in the spring. There is also a fall bloom.

Ticks can carry several diseases which can infect people and dogs. In Ontario the more common diseases include Lyme disease and Anaplasmosis.  Lyme disease and Anaplasmosis are spread by the bite of blacklegged ticks. Blacklegged ticks can be found sporadically throughout the province. They are typically small when unfed (1 – 5 mm in length) and all active stages feed on blood. Ticks usually come in contact with people or animals by positioning themselves on tall grass and bushes. They may take several hours to find a suitable place on the host to feed. Most tick bites are painless so your pet will not feel the tick’s presence. Dogs can become infected when an infected tick has been feeding on them for at least 2 days. The tick itself becomes infected by feeding on infected mice, birds, deer, and other animals. Eighty percent of the ticks submitted for identification from canine patients of Nottawasaga Valley Veterinary Hospital were the blacklegged tick.

Direct transmission of Lyme disease from one dog to another has not been reported, even when infected and uninfected dogs have lived together for long periods. Transmission of Lyme disease from dogs to people has not been reported.

Up to 90% of dogs infected with Lyme disease do not show any signs of illness. In dogs that get sick, the signs may be vague and may not appear for two to five months after tick exposure. The most common clinical sign is lameness, but a small percentage of dogs develop severe, life-threatening kidney disease. Lyme disease, once diagnosed can be treated with a variety of antibiotics.

Anaplasmosis is much less common than Lyme disease and it may cause lethargy, inappetence, fever and a reduction in platelets, which are required for the normal clotting of blood.

Tick prevention and regular screening tests are paramount in preventing illness in your dog. There are a variety of products available in topical preparations or in chewable tablet form which kill ticks on dogs. There is also a vaccine available for at risk dogs.

Yearly screening with the Idexx 4Dx test allows us to detect dogs that have been exposed to ticks carrying Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis before illness occurs. Identifying exposed dogs allows us to initiate further tests and formulate a treatment plan.

Tick preventive products should be started as early as April and should be used into November. The greatest tick activity is seen in April, May, June, September, October and November. Ticks survive in cooler weather and are active at 4 degrees Celsius and above.

For more information on tick prevention or to book your dog for a screening test,
call us at 705-434-2226.

DENTAL HEALTH

Good oral health is an important component of general health and well being. Eighty five percent of pets have periodontal disease by three years of age. Periodontal disease affects the gums and the bone surrounding the teeth. Since pets don’t complain and since most dogs and cats will eat even when their mouth hurts, it is often difficult for pet owners to notice that their pet has problems in the mouth.

Many pets are presented to their veterinarian only after oral disease is well advanced.  At this point oral surgery to extract often multiple diseased teeth is the only option.

As health care providers, our veterinarians are now emphasizing the benefits of home dental care and regular cleaning by our trained professionals.

Regular check ups allow our doctors and technicians to look for early and advanced signs of problems in the mouth. Once problems have been identified a treatment plan can be implemented to resolve them.

Regular tooth brushing, application of oral cleansing gel, dental diets, dental rawhides and dental chews are all things that will help to minimize tartar formation and keep the mouth healthy. These things can all be done at home!

Regular cleaning at our hospital under general anesthesia will have the biggest impact on the overall health of the teeth and gums. It is only under general anesthesia that a thorough evaluation can be done of all teeth and the surrounding tissues. Problems can be identified and addressed. Sore teeth, teeth with cavities, loose teeth and broken teeth are usually extracted. All healthy teeth are cleaned above and below the gumline. Root planing, whereby tartar is scraped from below the gumline until the root is smooth again, is performed on teeth with deep pockets around them to encourage the gum to reattach.

A sore and infected mouth can result in the spread of bacteria to other organs causing more health problems. Dental disease can result in low grade chronic pain, infection and discomfort.