McQueen Blog

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Fleas: What You Need to Know

Posted: 2019-04-18 Permanent Link
Fleas: What You Need to Know

Fleas are everywhere. Even the cleanest, most pampered pets can get fleas and once inside your home, fleas can spread rapidly. Depending on where you live, the risk of flea infestation diminishes somewhat in colder months because freezing temperatures kill off many outdoor pests, but infestation remains a year-round concern as there are many warm places where fleas can thrive. The good news is that there are effective products to help prevent your pet from becoming infested.

Overview
These small, wingless insects are common pests of wildlife such as raccoons and rabbits. As wild critters crawl around your yard, they deposit flea eggs that grow into adult fleas seeking a home. Wandering pets offer the new crop of fleas a safe haven, a source of food (blood), and a good place to raise a family. In addition to these sources, pets can pick up fleas from other infested dogs or cats.

The scratching caused by fleas can lead to skin damage and secondary infection. Fleas can also pass on diseases such as tapeworm, cat scratch disease, and blood parasites. Getting rid of fleas from your pet and your home can be a major chore in some cases, so it is best to focus on preventing them.

Life Cycle
Adult fleas usually spend their entire lives on a host animal, where they feed, mate, and produce eggs. Once laid, flea eggs drop to the ground, hatch, and develop into larvae that feed on organic material. The bedding of infested pets is often loaded with eggs and larvae that are too small to be noticed. After a while, these larvae spin a cocoon and develop into pupae and then into adult fleas that hatch out and seek another pet (or the same one) on which to live.

In the winter, freezing temperatures can kill off eggs and larvae in the environment, but not those living in sheltered havens such as nests, burrows, and your living room. It’s easy to see how even a single pair of fleas can lead to a massive household infestation over a period of weeks to months.

Signs and Identification
Fleas are very small and difficult to find because they hide within the thick hair coats of dogs and cats. Adults look like small reddish-brown sesame seeds. They can occasionally be seen scurrying in the hair coat, especially around the neck and ears, along the rump and tail head, and in the underbelly and groin areas (where thinner hair can make them easier to see). But often, the only sign of a flea problem is your pet’s scratching and biting, which can produce raw areas of skin infection.

In many instances, pets can become allergic to fleas, so that even a single bite sets off intense itching and red, sore, infected “hotspots.”

Sometimes, you may also see “flea dirt,” which is dried-up flea excrement. If you brush this gritty material out of the hair coat onto a white sheet of paper or paper towel, you’ll notice individual, reddish brown crusts that look like tiny commas. If you add a drop of water, you’ll see a brown ring around the “dirt” as the digested blood leaches out into the paper. If an area is heavily infested, you may even see bites on people, usually around the ankles, from newly emerged adult fleas seeking their first blood meal.

Treatment
Many products are available to kill fleas and prevent their reproduction. These products are generally safe and effective, and many last for a month or longer after a single application. Most monthly preventives are topical products that are applied to the skin between the shoulder blades or along the backline of dogs and cats, but some products come in pill or collar form. Your vet can help you decide which one is most appropriate for you and your pet.

Monthly treatments have largely replaced sprays, powders, dips, and flea collars that were mainstays of years past. If desired, some insecticidal sprays and shampoos can be safely applied in combination with monthly treatments. Ask us to be sure these pesticides are safe when used in conjunction with monthly topical or oral medications. Always make sure to read labels carefully and heed all directions and warnings! And never use a canine flea product on a cat!

Judicious, consistent use of the most effective treatments will eventually eliminate flea infestations over time. To speed up the process, you can also use indoor and outdoor insecticides to kill off fleas around the home. Similarly, thorough washing of pet bedding and vacuuming carpets and upholstery will help remove many immature flea stages before they can turn into adults that jump onto your pet.

Most pets have no side effects when flea treatments are used correctly. If you’re worried about using man-made chemicals, ask your vet about “natural” flea control. But be warned, some so-called natural products are much less effective and can in some cases be more toxic than their man-made counterparts.

This blog was written by McQueen Animal Hospital, an animal clinic (vet hospital/vet clinic) in Brampton committed to providing only the highest level of veterinary care to our beloved pets.

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Facts to Know About Heartworm Disease

Posted: 2019-04-04 Permanent Link
Facts to Know About Heartworm Disease

Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that can affect dogs and cats.

It’s caused by parasitic worms that can live in the heart, lungs and related blood vessels, and it’s spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes. However, the disease is generally preventable and there are measures you can take to help protect your pet from these dangerous parasites.

Signs of Infection
So, how do you know when your dog or cat has heartworms?
Many pets don’t show signs of heartworm infection, which is one reason why heartworm testing is so important. However, depending on the number of worms and the duration and severity of the infection, your pet may exhibit signs of illness.

Dogs with heartworms may have a cough, become lethargic or exercise-intolerant (tiring easily or having difficulty exercising) or have difficulty breathing. They can also develop cardiac problems and retain fluid in their lungs and abdomen due to heart failure. Infected cats may vomit, cough or have difficulty breathing. Cats may also suffer from weight loss or lethargy. Tragically, some cats die suddenly without any previous signs of illness. It’s important to talk to us if your pet is exhibiting any of these signs.

Heartworm Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention
It’s important to have your pet examined on a regular basis, particularly since pets with heartworm disease sometimes don’t have any signs of illness. There are no approved treatments for heartworms in cats, but medications can sometimes help improve breathing difficulties and other disease complications. In dogs, heartworm disease is treatable, but if the heart has been severely damaged, some of the damage may not be reversible. Early diagnosis of heartworms makes early intervention possible — and early intervention can mean pets have a greater chance of surviving a heartworm infection.
We highly recommend to bring in your pet for an annual test and prevention medication.

The good news about heartworm disease is that there are a variety of preventive options (oral and topical products for dogs and cats and an injectable product for dogs) that are safe and effective. Many are given monthly.

Heartworms are preventable if you take your pet to the Vet regularly and follow their recommendations.
Make prevention a priority and your furry friend will thank you.

This blog was written by McQueen Animal Hospital, an animal clinic (vet hospital/vet clinic) in Brampton committed to providing only the highest level of veterinary care to our beloved pets.

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MARCH IS NATIONAL TICK AWARENESS MONTH

Posted: 2019-03-14 Permanent Link
MARCH IS NATIONAL TICK AWARENESS MONTH

When temperatures rise, pets tend to spend more time outside, either relaxing in the sunshine, taking long walks or playing. While the fresh air and exercise are great for them (and you!), it’s important to be aware of some outdoor risks — specifically, bugs and parasites that can bite your pet and make him sick. But don’t worry, taking a few precautions before you head outside can help keep these pests away.

The Troublesome Tick

Ticks are attracted to motion, warm temperatures and the carbon dioxide that your pet exhales. Ticks cannot jump or fly, so they climb onto objects like fences or vegetation. They wait there for a human or animal to walk by so they can cling onto an unwitting host and hitch a ride. Ticks can carry different diseases, depending on the area of the country in which you live. Ask us which ticks are prevalent in our area so you can be on the lookout.

Once ticks find a host, they take a bite — though your pet probably won’t even feel it. The bite can transfer pathogens to a pet, which can lead to disease, or the bite site can become infected. If this happens, your veterinarian will often treat the infection with oral antibiotics. Topical antibiotics aren’t enough, as the infection could have already spread through your pet’s body, making it much harder to treat.

Keeping Ticks at Bay

One of the best ways to deal with ticks is to avoid them in the first place. Don’t take walks in the woods during prime season. Keep the grass, trees and bushes in your yard trimmed, and clear away any brush where ticks might like to hide.

Speak to us about which of the available preventive products are best suited to your geographic area and the age of your pet. These products help kill ticks, but be sure you check with us before using them. Some products should only be used on adult dogs or cats. The new generation of preventive products is highly effective at tackling ticks, but only use them as directed, and talk to us before combining products. Insecticide sprays intended for use on clothing and/or humans should never be used on pets.

Most importantly, never use any product labeled for a dog on a cat. Products labeled for dogs may contain pyrethrins orpermethrins, which can be extremely toxic to cats. Your veterinarian can advise you on the best preventive products for your particular pets.

Removing Ticks

After your pet spends time outdoors, check him carefully for ticks, especially in hard-to-reach places (ticks like to hide in warm areas, so be sure to check folds of skin, under the arms, in the ears, between the toes, etc.). Keep in mind that ticks can be very tiny — some are as small as the head of a pin. If you find a tick on your dog or cat, first of all, don’t panic. Try to remove the tick as soon as possible. Cats can often remove ticks during grooming, but not if the tick is in an inaccessible place, like behind the ear. For safe removal, avoid touching the tick with bare fingers. Use tweezers to take hold of the tick, and pull slowly and steadily. If you can’t remove the tick’s mouthparts fromyour pet’s skin, don’t worry. Once the body has been removed, the tick can no longer transmit pathogens, and the area should heal on its own. Just tossing the tick down the sink or toilet may allow it to survive and crawl out, so first put the tick in rubbing alcohol to kill it. If you have a hard time removing the tick, or are unsure how to do it properly, contact us.

By taking a few simple precautions and checking with your veterinarian, you can help keep your pet tick-free all summer long!

Facts About Ticks

• Lyme disease may be the most well-known disease that can result from pathogens transmitted by ticks, but it isn’t the only one.

• Ticks affect many different mammals, birds and reptiles because they can transmit pathogens from prior hosts.

• If a tick bites an animal with a particular disease, that pathogen can sometimes be transmitted when the tick bites another animal.

• With your veterinarian, discuss possible tick-related diseases in your geographic location and the steps you need to take to prevent tick infestations on your pet.

A little prevention can go a long way!

This blog was written by McQueen Animal Hospital, an animal clinic (vet hospital/vet clinic) in Brampton committed to providing only the highest level of veterinary care to our beloved pets.

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