Posts Categorized: Parasites

Ticks in Kamloops

Ticks are an ectoparasite that are part of the arachnid family. They feed on the blood from small mammals, birds and sometimes reptiles. There are 2 families of ticks; hard bodied ticks (Ixodidae family) and soft bodied ticks (Argasidae family).

Did you know that ticks prefer warm and humid climates (this explains why we see a lot of ticks in Kamloops and the surrounding area!)?

Here are some interesting facts about ticks:

  • they can starve for a long period of time before dying of starvation–eek!
  • ‘questing’ is the term used when a tick climbs onto a leaf, twig or grass and stretch out its first pair of legs and ‘taste’ for a host to come near.
  • ticks have up to 4 pairs of legs!
  • ticks know a host is nearby by detecting its breath, odor, heat, moisture or vibrations
  • they transmit diseases and infections
  • the most common disease and infections seen in Kamloops are
    • bacterium Rickettsia which causes Rocky Mountain Fever
    • Lyme disease
    • Tick paralysis
  • Both the attachment of the tick and the time it is feeding for play a role in the likeliness of disease and infection transmittance.
  • it is best to remove ticks within 36 hours of attachment to prevent transmittance of disease.
  • they secrete an anticoagulant into the tissue to prevent the blood from clotting while its feeding–Good thing they are as small as they are or one bite from a tick and we’d all turn into a bleeding mess!

 

How can you prevent ticks from crawling on you and your pets?

  • Oral prevention such as Nexgard (for dogs) this is a soy based, beef flavored chew able tablet
  • Topical prevention such as Revolution (dogs and cats) this is a liquid that is applied to skin at the nap of the neck
  • Clothing and fur spray such as Tick End. This is a spray that you can spray on your pets fur or on clothing to help deter ticks, fleas, mosquitoes and black flies. Plus it can be used on your pant legs to help prevent the nasty little bugs from crawling up you to find their next meal!

What do you do if you find a tick on you or your pet?

  • First determine if it is attached. If not, simply pluck it out of the pets fur
  • If it is attached to the skin, make note if where it is by a picture or marking a circle on the pets fur with a marker. This will help you and your vet find the area if any infection or irritation occurs at the attachment site.
  • Once the spot is determined, use tweezers or a tick remover to safely pluck out the tick.
  • Use a dab of hydrogen peroxide or antibacterial soap to disinfect the area that the tick was attached to.
  • Call Central Animal Hospital to male sure your pet is on adequate tick prevention.
  • Remember to check with us too to see if there are any tick studies we know of that we can send your unwelcome quest to. These studies help determine which diseases are present and most prevalent in our area.

Check out the video below to see how a tick remover works. Don’t forget to pop in to Central Animal Hospital to pick up your tick remover and Tick End spray!

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Mosquitoes everywhere! What does it mean for your dog and heart worm risk?

Remember the saying: April showers bring May flowers?  Well, that same rain creates a wonderful environment for mosquitoes.  Mosquitoes are a carrier for Dirofilaria immitis, commonly known as Heartworm.   Heartworm is a parasitic roundworm that is carried in the saliva of mosquitoes and transfered to their preferred host when the mosquito bites and takes a blood meal.  Heartworm’s definitive host is our canine friends, but it can still be transfered to other animals like cats, foxes, bears and humans to name a few.

In the mosquito, the heartworm larvae starts off in its first larvae stage L1, being ingested in a blood meal from an infected animal. This L1 stage needs the environmental temperatures to be between 14 and 27 degrees for the mosquito host in order for it to develop into its L3 stage.  Once this transformation has occurred, it migrates into the mosquitos salivary glands and it is now ready to leave the mosquito and enter it’s ideal host-the dog.

Once deposited into its host through the bite of a mosquito, the heartworm larvae travel through the blood stream and complete further life stages. The larvae will stay in the subcutaneous tissue of the dog, developing from L3 to L4 larvae, a process that takes approximately 2 weeks.  Then, the L4 larvae migrate through tissue and muscles of its host, migrating to the muscles of the chest and abdomen.  In 45-60 days, the heartwom larvae molt into its L5 stage. Once in it’s L5 stage, it is ready to enter the animals (dog’s) blood stream. Once in the blood stream, they are carried into the pulmonary artery where they grow to their full size.  Adult heartworm can reach 23-30cm in length.  The adult heartworms breed and produce microfilaria that circulate the bloodstream and wait for their intermediate host the mosquito to come take a blood meal-ingesting them in the process, where they can develop into their L3 stage and the cycle continues.

So where is the harm? This little parasite causes a multitude of health concerns for its host. And since its ideal host is our canine friends, it is a little concerning!  Through out its development in our canines blood stream it can cause a slew of health concerns from being lodged in a vessel that is smaller then the worm. This occlusion to the vessel results in decreased or complete limiting blood supply to where the vessel leads. If in a limb, this could cause pain or lameness, or even potential loss of function. If in the eye, it can lead to blindness. If in the brain-seizures.  You get the picture!  Knowing the real home is in the pulmonary artery, most of the damage is done to the dogs lung tissue. Again, the worm will lodge itself into a cozy vessel and limit the blood supply or occlude it all together. Often, the adult worms will work their way into the chambers of the heart for better room and blood supply. These worms can cause a solid mass in the heart and prevent blood from flowing properly with in the heart and therefore being pumped to the rest of the body.

If in the heart or lungs, often the signs you would see mimic those of heart disease. Coughing, shortness of breath, lethargy, or early tiring from exercise.

There are two common detection techniques used. Microfilaria detection (the actual visual finding of the microfilaria in the blood under a microscope) and antigen testing (tests for the antigen released from the female heartworm).

If heartworm is detected in a dog, the treatment available isn’t great. It involves an arsenic-based compound that kills the adult worms. The dogs body then has to breakdown and absorb the dead worms before they lodge into a small capillary or vessel. This process can take several weeks, during which the dog needs to stay extremely quiet to prevent further injury to the blood stream (lodging in vessels).  Once the adult worms are dead, then the dog is treated for microfilaria. This process can take several weeks and a lot of medical testing to ensure no negative effects are occurring to the lungs, heart, liver and kidneys. Occasionally, surgical removal of dead adult worms is needed.

Heartworm treatment can be quite expensive and posses its own risks to the patient.  Prevention is much safer and effective!  Heartworm prevention is often found in either chew able tablets or as a liquid that is absorbed through the skin. When administered regularly, it is almost 100% effective in prevention of heartwom disease and the spread of it.

Generally speaking, as soon as mosquitoes emerge, till late in the fall when they hibernate, Heartworm prevention should be given to your dog.  If you have any questions or concerns surrounding heartworm and your pup, please call or pop into the clinic today.  This is a very serious and scary infection, prevention is simple and easy to administered and much safer and effective then the treatment options!