Spring is in the air, and with this comes the return of parasite prevention. All of the snow melting around us reveals a parasite haven! Dog feces that were not picked up can harbour infective eggs, such as roundworms and hookworms. Many dogs love to nibble on other dogs’ feces or the grass that the stools are lying on, thus perpetuating the parasitic cycle of infection. These same dogs love to lick their owners’ hands and faces, putting owners at risk for dangerous infections.
With the warmer weather, we also have increased dog to dog contact, such as on walks or at off-leash parks. This increases the potential for external parasites to spread. Ticks also become active when the weather is 4 degrees Celsius or warmer. This is especially a concern for dogs and people who hike through tall grasses and forested areas. Our clinic has had several tick submissions over the past year from dogs who never left their backyards!
Echinococcus is an emerging parasite of significance, as it can be fatal in humans. It’s a tapeworm that can infect many species, including dogs and humans. Dogs pick up Echinococcus by eating infected rodents. This leads dogs to develop the adult worms and pass infective eggs in their fecal matter. Humans pick up the infection by coming in contact with contaminated soil or eating fruits and vegetables contaminated with eggs, and by ingesting the eggs from an infected pet’s fur. There are many dewormers on the market, and it can be confusing to decide which one suits your dog best. Take caution with over the counter dewormers, as they may not have the same efficacy as prescription ones, and they may be toxic to certain species (like cats.)
For the average dog who mostly goes for walks on sidewalks, and goes out in the yard:
HEARTGARD (a once monthly chew May-October.) Targets roundworms, hookworms and heartworms
For dogs who spend a significant amount of time outdoors, or who walk through tall grasses:
HEARTGARD + NEXGARD (a once monthly chew, that can be given at the same time as Heartgard, MAY-OCTOBER.) Targets fleas and ticks.
For dogs who eat rodents:
HEARTGARD + NEXGARD (MAY-OCTOBER) + Dolpac (a pill given in July and October.) Targets all types of tapeworms, including Echinococcus. (Dolpac can be given instead of Heartguard that specific month.)
We welcome all clients to call the clinic, or come in and speak with a staff member about a tailored parasite prevention program for your dog!
Written by Dr Katherine Takacs