Spring is in the air! The sun is (somewhat) shining and we all couldn’t be happier to arise from our cold weather hibernation and habits. Now that the temperatures are changing its time to face reality – creepy-crawly season is back and it’s time to get your pet protected!
At Grah Kingston, we are providing quality Cat & Dog Parasite Control Service. We are known as one of the best Dog & Cat Parasite Control Vet Clinics in Kingston.
Heartworm disease is spread through mosquito. For us in Ontario, this is a concern throughout the summer months and why we use prevention from June through to November. The life cycle of the heartworm begins when a female mosquito bites an infected dog and ingests the microfilariae (consider them the baby heartworms) during a blood meal. The microfilariae grow further for 10 – 30 days in the mosquito’s gut and then enter its mouth parts.
At this stage, they are infectious larvae and can complete their maturation when they enter a dog. The ineffective larvae enter the dog’s body when the mosquito bites a dog. They journey into the bloodstream and move to the heart and adjacent blood vessels, maturing to adults, mating and reproducing microfilariae within 6 – 7 months.
Here at the Usher Animal Hospital, we test all dogs for heartworm disease before starting them on any sort of preventative. As long as compliance has been met giving the medication for the required amount of time (typically June – November), we do not require subsequent testing to be done.
Heartworm testing requires a small blood sample to be taken with one of our technicians. The sample is sent out to our reference laboratory and results are reported by the next day. Our heartworm tests not only screen for heartworm disease, but we also screen for common tick-borne diseases as well.
Fleas can be a year-round issue, depending on where you live. However, in Ontario, the summer tends to be our typical flea season. There are four stages to the flea life cycle:
Flea eggs are whitish and about 0.5 millimetres (mm) (1/32″) in length. They are unlikely to be seen without a magnifying glass. The eggs are primarily laid on the dog’s skin but fall off into the environment to continue their life cycle. Flea eggs establish approximately 50% of the total flea population. Eggs may hatch in as little as 14 to 28 days, depending on environmental circumstances. High humidity and temperature favor rapid hatching.
Flea larvae are about 2-5 mm (1/8″ to 1/4″) in length. They have a white body and a blackhead. They dislike cheerful light and move deep into carpet fibers or under furniture, organic debris, grass, branches, leaves, and soil. Flea larvae prefer warm, dark, and moist areas. Outdoors, larval development happens only in shaded, moist areas where flea-infested pets spend a significant amount of time. Our climate-controlled homes offer an ideal environment for the flea larvae to thrive.
The flea pupae produce a defensive silk-like cocoon that is sticky. It rapidly becomes coated with grime and debris, which acts as a useful camouflage. With warmth and humidity, pupae become adult fleas in 5-10 days. The adults do not appear from the cocoon unless stimulated by physical pressure, vibrations, carbon dioxide, or heat. This is important since once fleas emerge from the cocoon they can only happen for a few days unless they can feed.
Pre-emergent adult fleas can live within the cocoon for up to 9 months. During this time, they are resistant to insecticides applied to the environment. This is important to remember because adult fleas may emerge from their pupae into the environment a considerable time after you apply insecticides in your home.
Once it emerges, the flea adult, unlike the larvae, is concerned with light and heads to the surface to encounter a passing host to feed upon. Two days after the first blood meal, female fleas begin egg making. In normal conditions the adult female will live up to three weeks, laying approximately 40 eggs per day. The whole life cycle, from egg to adult flea can be completed in as little as 14-28 days depending on environmental situations.
Ticks are not only a concern in the four-legged community but for us as humans as well. We are all fully aware of Lyme disease and the health concerns involved.
The tick lifecycle involves four distinct life stages: egg, six-legged larvae, eight-legged nymph, and adult. Females sum from 3,000 to 6,000 eggs on the ground. Adult ticks pursue host animals and after engorgement on blood, they quickly mate. Male ticks typically die after mating with one or more females, although some may continue to live for several months. Females die soon after laying their eggs in protected habitats on the ground.
The life cycle needs from as little as 2 months to more than 2 years, depending on the species. After the egg hatches, the tiny larva (sometimes called a “seed tick”) feeds on a suitable host. The larva then develops (“molts”) into the larger nymph. The nymph feeds on a host and then molts into an even larger adult. Male and female adults feed and mate on the host; the female falls to the ground to lay her eggs, continuing the life cycle.
Here at the Usher Animal Hospital, we provide an abundance of heartworm, flea, and tick preventative medications. Which product you choose will all depend on the lifestyle of your pet and their risk factors. Most pets that stay within the City of Toronto use a heartworm and flea combination product as Ticks aren’t as prevalent within the city itself. Pets that travel to northern parts of Ontario and visit cottages will often use a preventative that takes care of heartworm, fleas, and ticks since the prevalence is much higher.
Pet owners are welcome to visit our Animal Hospital in Kingston. Our veterinarians can carry out specific testing to diagnose the parasites effecting the health of your pet.