Dr. Julie Schell, BSc(Hons), DVM
The spring and summer season provides an excellent opportunity to enjoy the outdoors with your pets. It is important to prepare for the potential hazards that accompany these adventures. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes and cause potentially deadly disease in dogs and cats. Your veterinarian should be made aware if your pet is travelling outside of Alberta so that heartworm testing can be performed. Preventative medication given once per month can protect your pet from heartworm disease as well as intestinal parasites such as whipworms, hookworms and roundworms.
Another danger to active, outdoor pets is Giardia, an intestinal protozoan that causes Beaver Fever. This parasite lives in fecal material and stagnant water and can also infect people. Beaver Fever results in intestinal damage, diarrhea and malabsorption. A vaccination is available for dogs to protect them from this disease and is recommended for dogs who spend time outdoors.
Your veterinarian can also help protect your pet from external parasites such as Ticks and Fleas. These parasites feed on the blood of your pet and can cause skin irritation and infection. They can also be carriers of other parasites such as tapeworms and Lyme Disease-causing organisms. Some pets are allergic to Flea saliva and can become very sick when infected. Fleas and ticks can be transmitted to your pet through contact with a previously infected animal or environment. Medication is available from your veterinarian to protect your pets from these pests.