It’s summer time during COVID, and most people have taken to camping as a getaway. There are many campgrounds that are pet friendly, but do you know what you need to do so YOU are ready? Below we have some tried and true tips on camping with your furry bestie.
1. Ensure Your Dog is on Parasite Prevention Medication and up to date on Vaccinations
Romping through the woods is one of the best parts of camping, hiking the trails and discovering new picnicking spots. While we use bug spray/ repellant for ourselves, we need to ensure our furry friend is also protected from biting insects. If your dog is not already on a heartworm, flea and tick preventative medication call your veterinarian to get them started. When out camping you can possibly expose your pet to wildlife encounters as well as bacteria. Ensuring your pet is up to date on all vaccines give you the peace of mind that they are protected from Rabies and Leptospirosis. Make sure you check your dog (and yourself) for ticks, leeches or other parasites before bedding down for a nap or for the night.
2. Bring a leash, collar and ID
Many campgrounds have leash length limits, as well as other dog-specific policies. It is always best to follow the rules set out by the campground. If there are no rules, be mindful of your pet’s general safety. A bright collar, with an ID tag showing their name and a phone number that you can be reached at is the easiest way to ensure they will be returned to you. If you find you tend to camp far away with limited cell service, consider a microchip. These handy devices show a code that is linked to your information, and most microchip companies also require an additional emergency contact person so they can also be contacted in the case of your pet getting lost and you are unreachable. Leashing your dog on your hikes may seem counter-productive, but you are most likely to encounter wildlife while out with a dog. To avoid bears, skunks or other animals you can add bells to your dog’s collar to frighten away potential threats or just keep them leashed. If walking on a popular trail, leashing is sometimes safer as many people throw their garbage including glass bottles into the woods and your dog is at risk for getting cuts. As well, there are many GPS based collars that when walking in the deep back woods can ensure you know where your off-leash dog is.
3. Food and Drink Safety
You may have a game plan for your own food, but if your dog is a grazer leaving their food out isn’t always the safest thing when you’re camping. Always remember to seal up dry and canned food in airtight containers and store them safely with your own. Don’t leave food out for your pet, and try to wash out the bowls immediately for canned food or store the dry food bowls with the rest of your food products – just the smell of food in a bowl can interest wildlife. Ensure that your dog always has access to fresh water. Avoid letting them drink from puddles or slow-moving creeks as they can be hosts to bacteria that can cause many issues including GI upset and Leptospirosis. There are many handy pet portable water bottles available, or portable pet bowls to ensure on your hikes your dog has access to fresh water.
4. Pet First Aid Kit
Good to have when on a hike or in your house, always bring a pet first aid kit when camping. You can buy them at pet stores, St John Ambulance or other major retailers. Good things to have in your pet first aid kit include: saline solution for rinsing wounds, self-adhesive bandages, gauze, tick twister, flea comb, quick stop styptic powder and single use gloves.
5. Campsite Safety
Camping may be a fun adventure, but if your dog isn’t used to sleeping in a tent, laying by the campfire or generally being outdoors in the summer heat all day then you may want to get them used to it first. Try introducing the tent in your backyard, let them explore while you air it out. You can try feeding them in it to coax them in if they appear nervous. Always a good idea to put on booties or socks on your dog so your air mattress and tent don’t get holes at night as well. If your dog is a little nervous and already crate trained, you can bring along their crate so they have something familiar. Try setting it up in the tent (if your tent is big enough) or put it in a shady place so they can nap in the shade. Make sure you give your dog lots of opportunities to rest in the shade or even a quick swim in the lake is a good way to ensure your pet cools down. Also, remember to not let your dog too close to the firepit, just one spark can cause a burn on their skin.
Camping is a great way to get out and active with the family and can be a wonderful time with your dog too! Follow these easy tips and you can have a safe camping getaway!
Change is never easy, especially for some of our pets (and us). Many of our pets have grown accustomed to having us around all the time, and have enjoyed the extra time. With workplaces opening back up, we all have to get back “into the groove” of going back to work like we did before the pandemic shut things down.
Although for us it only means a few days (or weeks) of dreary eyes and glaring at our business wear, for our pets it can cause a lot more disruption and anxiety to be left alone again. In some pets, the sudden change to their routine again may cause separation anxiety or increase existing anxieties.
To help ease your pet through the transition, you can follow these steps to slowly get back into the routine:
1. Go back to your regular morning routine. Wake up at the regular time, shower etc, have breakfast and leave at the usual time you would go. You don’t need to actually go away for 8+ hours, be gone for just a few minutes and then come back. The idea is to get your pet used to you doing this again.
2. Slowly, day by day increase your time away. Go for walks by yourself, go for groceries etc. If at any point your pet shows signs of distress – barking, scratching, peeing/ pooping where they do not usually, chewing inappropriately (couches, cords) stop and go back to a timeline that didn’t stress them out. The idea is to limit their stress while re-introducing them to being alone.
3. If you have been letting your pet out more often during the day to pee/poop, start limiting that time to get them used to it again. Same idea as leaving, slowly day by day limit the outside breaks / mid-day walks until they are back to where they were before.
Watch the video linked above from the Ontario Veterinary Medical Assosciation (OVMA) on how to help your pet with separation anxiety. They explain these tips and a few more on how to help your pet during this transition period.
Again, some pets will not have any issues and will adjust easily. Other pets may have a harder time coping. For those pets, we suggest using these tips, and if your pet still isn’t adjusting to the changes at all we have pheromone products as well as other medications that can help with the adjustment period (collars, plug in diffusers and sprays).
If your pet is having trouble adjusting to you going back to work, give us a call. We can schedule you in with the doctor who can go over all the options and discuss your pet’s specific case.
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection, caused by Borrelia burgdorferi (B. burgdorferi) that may develop when an animal or person is bitten by an infected tick. This bacteria in Canada is almost exclusively transmitted by Ixodes scapularis and Ixodes pacificus, the eastern and western black-legged ticks (aka Deer ticks). Carrier ticks transmit the bacteria into the host’s bloodstream while feeding, it takes 24–48 hours (or more) for the bacteria to be transmitted to the host – you or your pet.
Already in 2020 at least 25 dogs tested positive for Lyme disease here in Ontario and the number is only expected to go up as the warmer weather hits and more ticks are out moving around. Last year there was 799 reported positive cases in Ontario – which doesn’t sound like much but that only covers the clinics that report their findings and not all animals are tested. We suspect more cases exist, but have not been reported as the dogs have not been tested.
What are the symptoms of a dog with Lyme disease?
It can cause a wide range of problems, and luckily most dogs that are exposed to the bacteria never get sick.
When disease does occur in a dog, it typically happens a few months after being infected via a tick bite. Fever, lameness, stiffness and swollen joints are common in dogs with Lyme disease. Enlarged lymph nodes, lethargy and decreased appetite may also develop. Not all dogs who have these symptoms have Lyme disease though! That is why the annual blood test is so important as well as discussing any mobility changes with the doctor at your annual checkup.
My dog tested positive for Lyme disease on the screening test. What do I do?
Our annual heartworm and tick disease screening test checks for Lyme disease as well as 4 other tick borne diseases and heartworm. When we receive a Lyme positive result, our doctor will discuss next steps with you.
Typically we do a second blood test that isolates and calculates the active B. burgdorferi antibodies in your pet’s system. Then based on a number of corresponding factors, together with the doctor you make a treatment plan that works best for your dog’s individual needs.
How can I prevent my dog from getting Lyme disease?
Here at IVS, we use a multi-prong approach to prevention. We vaccinate as well as prescribe treatment and control medication during the tick’s active times of the year. We have many different brands and types of prevention medications that can be given depending on your lifestyle.
Give us a call to order your pet’s prevention. We will be sending out our annual e-mail blast about the testing soon, so if we don’t already have your e-mail give us a call so you can get on the list!
When we say ‘tick’, we are actually referring to over 900 distinct species. The majority of these species are found in tropical and subtropical areas, but a subset are well-adapted to temperate areas (that means us!). Each tick species can differ significantly in regard to anatomy, the host species on which it feeds on, the habitat and climatic conditions suitable for survival, the seasonal activity patterns (when they are most active) and the pathogens which it can transmit (some transmit none).
Ticks have three active life stages (or in stars): larvae, nymphs and adult male or female. Larvae have only 6 legs, while nymphs and adults have 8 legs. Adults range in size from 1 to 5 mm unfed to up to 20 mm fed.
Pathogens transmitted from ticks can spread disease in animals. Most commonly talked about and referenced is Lyme disease (see next week's Tuesday Tip), but they also can transmit other diseases as well. The annual blood test we strongly suggest for all dogs checks for 5 of the most commonly seen of these diseases as well as Heartworm - more on that test in a later tip!
The ticks usually found in our area are the Blacklegged Tick and American Dog tick. Of course others are around, but these two are the most commonly found by researchers.
Blacklegged (Deer) Tick aka Ixodes scapularis
Blacklegged ticks have been found and studied along Long Point since 1995, and their numbers have only grown during that time. Adult males and females are active October-May, as long as the daytime temperature remains above 0 degrees Celsius though they are most active in April and October.
Adult blacklegged ticks can be found questing about knee-high on the tips of branches of low growing shrubs. Adult females aren't above a snack on your or your pet though!
Nymphs are most commonly found in moist leaf litter in wooded areas, or at the edge of wooded areas.
These guys often carry the pathogens that transmit Lyme Disease as well as other diseases.
American Dog Tick aka Dermacentor variabilis
American Dog tick adult males and females are active April- early August, peaking in May and June.
Adults are mostly found questing in tall grass and low lying brush and twigs - ditches, meadows etc. Adult American dog ticks are usually found on medium sized animals such as their namesake- dogs and raccoons, they are also found preying on humans. Nymphs prefer smaller animals, mice, voles etc in the same habitat.
These ticks often carry the pathogens that transmit Ehrlichiosis (which are part of the annual blood test) and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
What to Do
If you find a tick on your pet, don't panic! (We say that a lot, but it's an important step)
1. Get a friend or another adult to help you remove the tick if it is imbedded in your pet. If you see the tick just walking on your pet you can carefully brush it off, ensuring you do not get it on yourself.
2. Use a tick key or tick twister (we provide these free of charge at the clinic) to fully remove the tick - follow the directions that came with your tool.
3. Place the removed tick into a sealed container of some sort - plastic bag etc. Write down the date and location you removed it from for future reference.
4. Clean the tool you used as well as your hands with soap and water.
5. Call the clinic to update us that you removed a tick. We will discuss with you next steps and prevention.
6. Go to the website www.petsandticks.com or www.etick.ca to identify which species of tick you have, and you can enter it into their tick tracker survey. If you wish and we have the time, you can bring it in the sealed container to be identified by our technician- you can discuss that with us when you call to update.
All of the prevention products we keep in stock provide protection against both the Blacklegged and American dog tick, and most cover a few others as well. If you are concerned about the upcoming tick season and what that means for your pet, give us a call. We can discuss tick prevention and what would work best for your pet.
In Canada, flea populations usually peak early August to early October, but warm temperatures and high moisture can generate an ideal environment for fleas year-round.
Fleas are small (about 3 mm long), brown or reddish brown insects that have flat bodies and feed by sucking blood from animals and humans, causing itchy bites. Although fleas are tiny, they can make your dog or cat’s life miserable. These nasty little parasites can jump up to 30 cm high, which allows them to jump from the ground and onto pets with ease. Once on your pet, fleas can bite up to once every 5 minutes leaving your cat or dog itchy, sore and uncomfortable. Flea bites look like small red spots that often appear in clusters or lines.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD), an allergy to flea saliva that creates a rash, is the most common skin disease of dogs and cats. Fleas also spread disease, they can transmit tapeworms. Pets can become infected with tapeworm if they accidentally ingest a flea while they are grooming.
There are four life stages of the flea. For effective flea control, it is important to know how to break this life cycle in more than one stage.
The flea life cycle consists of egg, larval, pupal, and adult stages. Eggs are laid in the hair coat and are designed to fall off your pet and into your home. Larvae hatch from the eggs and develop in a pet’s environment by feeding on adult flea feces (i.e. digested blood) that fall out of the hair coat of the pet. Larvae eventually spin cocoons, often within carpet fibers, for pupation. Pupae are resistant to freezing, drying, and insecticides, and can lie dormant for many months! New fleas develop from pupae and can begin feeding within hours of finding a dog or cat. The entire flea life cycle can be completed in as little as three weeks!
How to Tell if your Pet has Fleas
- Little dark spots that move in the fur
- Small black particles (flea droppings) or white specks (flea eggs) on the pet or bedding
- Reddened patches and irritation on your pet’s skin
- Excessive licking or scratching
- Hair loss
If you are not sure you have a flea problem, use a flea comb on your pet’s back, tail and haunches. The flea comb may catch fleas or flea dirt (feces). To distinguish flea dirt from other dirt, wet it with a little water. Flea dirt will dissolve into a red-brown colour.
What Can I Do?!
Treating your pet with a flea prevention monthly, according to the product label, can effectively kill fleas and treat a flea infestation. Always read and follow the label on any product you use.
While treatment of the environment is not needed when some topical products are used, you can put pet beds in the dryer on high heat to kill developing fleas. Vacuuming can encourage developing fleas to hatch. Pay attention to low traffic areas that pets may not frequent in your cleaning regime.
If you think your cat/ dog may be suffering from fleas, give us a call. We would be happy to discuss prevention options and set you up with a medication. If you are concerned about hair loss, a rash, and excessive licking we can schedule you in for a full exam with our doctor and she can then discuss with you all the options available.
You're not alone!