When it’s the right time to start parasite prevention each year?
The dreaded “parasite season” is upon us, and people flock to their clinics for parasite prevention products, but what is the true “parasite season” in Nova Scotia?
Ticks – Ticks are out and questing in any weather as long as the temperature is above 4 degrees Celsius. They are also out and moving around at any temperature above -2 degrees Celsius. That means that we see ticks all year round now, as we do not have a single month of the year where we are guaranteed temperatures under -2 degrees Celsius. So what does that mean for you and your pet? For your pet, continue your tick checks after every walk, have parasite protection on board and avoid the unkept grassy areas where ticks prefer to hide (though no grassy areas are safe, unfortunately). For you, do regular tick checks after walking through unkept grassy areas or forested areas, if you see a tick on you, remove it immediately and seek medical attention. For humans – the sooner you see a doctor the better, in the first 48 hours they can provide some treatments that could potentially stop Lyme disease before it takes hold.
Fleas – Fleas can live in your home year-round. Once you have had a flea infestation, it is tough to kick it. They can live in your baseboards, carpeting and other small crevices in your home. Make sure you treat any infestation in your home as much as possible (with premise sprays and regular clean up). You can also get parasite products that are meant to help protect your home by way of your pet’s dander falling off of them, into the beds and carpets where fleas will hide. It’s best to treat an infestation as soon as possible to prevent it worsening. If you are on the year-round protection, you are at a lower risk for infestation. It is even more critical to ensure that all animals in the home are treated monthly. If you treat the dog but doesn’t treat the cat, the fleas will just keep hopping back and forth from host to host, and the infestation will worsen.
Intestinal Parasites – Many of the intestinal parasites can crop up year round as pets can carry them for long periods of time and shed them in their feces. When another pet sniffs/eats that initial pet’s feces it can contract that parasite. This means no time of year is particularly safe from intestinal parasites. It’s important to deworm at least every three months. Deworming does not prevent worms; it purges them from the pet’s system, so by deworming every three months you are allowing the body to purge those parasites regularly.
Heartworm – Heartworm is only a concern when there are mosquitos around, which means spring to fall. Heartworm is contracted when a mosquito who has fed on a host that is carrying heartworm, then feeds on a different host without heartworm. When they are feeding on the second host, they also transfer the heartworm back to the host. This is not common in Nova Scotia yet, and we mostly see it in dogs travelling out of province (i.e. Florida & Ontario are commons areas we see this from). If you are travelling to any endemic areas be sure to get heartworm protection on board.
Written by Dartmouth Veterinary Hospital