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Ticks in Ontario

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The most common tick species seen in Ontario are the American Dog Tick and the Deer Tick (Black legged tick).   Ticks can carry blood borne diseases such as Ehrlichia, Anaplasma and most commonly Lyme Disease (transmitted by the Deer Tick).  Tick populations are on the rise in both numbers and geographic distribution meaning the risk of tick borne disease is increasing.

Ticks feed on blood and can take around 5-6 hours to attach firmly to a pet and up to 10 days to fully engorge when feeding.  Unfortunately, it can take as little as 24-48 hours after attachment for a tick to transmit disease to the pet making tick preventatives key in preventing tick borne disease.  After feeding, a female tick can lay up to 8000 eggs per day.  Ticks can take up to two years to complete their life cycles but milder winters can allow adults to breed through winter months.

When and Where Are Ticks Active

Ticks are most active in the spring and fall from March-June and September-November.  However, with milder winters they can be active as early as February and as late as December.  They are active at temperatures as low as 4 degrees Celsius and can survive over winter.  Ticks prefer damp humid environments and especially wooded or grassy areas.  Precaution should be used when walking on trails, through leaf litter or near shrubs.

Lyme Disease (Borrelia burgdorferi)

Lyme disease is transmitted by deer ticks and can affect both dogs and people.  Lyme disease can be transmitted to cats but is very rare as cats are such fastidious groomers.  It can take as little as 24-48 hours after a tick attaches for it to transmit Lyme disease to the pet.  Deer ticks become infected after feeding on animals such as deer, who are carrying the disease, then transmit it to the pet via the bloodstream while feeding.  12% of deer ticks carry Lyme, but in Lyme endemic areas (lake Ontario, Long Point etc) up to 60% of deer ticks carry Lyme disease.  95% of dogs infected with Lyme disease will not show symptoms, making blood testing after tick exposure very important.  It takes up to 6 weeks after tick exposure for a dog to test positive with blood work.  For the 5% of dogs that do show symptoms, the effects may be permanent.  Signs of Lyme disease include: lethargy, inappetence, lameness, kidney failure and nervous system side effects.  The amount of time that a tick has been attached and fed on a dog determines the risk of contracting the disease: Less than 24 hours =  negligible risk,  24-48 = questionable risk, over 48 hours = significant risk.

Tick Prevention Option for Your Dog

Feel free to call us to discuss various options for tick prevention for your pet!  March is an ideal time to start on tick prevention before ticks emerge.  There are oral and topical tick and flea preventatives that kill ticks and fleas quickly.  With any tick preventative, speed of kill is important in preventing disease transmission.

I Found A Tick On My Pet, Now What?

If you have found a tick in your pet it is important to remove the tick as soon as possible to help decrease the risk of disease transmission.  Ticks can be removed with tick twisters, see link for demo ( ).  If you are unable to remove the tick or are uncomfortable doing so  we can remove the tick for you here at the clinic.  If you have successfully removed the tick, you can bring it to the clinic and we can identify the species of tick to determine whether Lyme disease transmission is a potential risk.  Note: Please bring the tick as is in a pill bottle or plastic bag for identification (Do Not Squish the tick or place in any liquids).  If a deer tick is found attached to your pet, we recommend blood testing in 6 weeks to be sure your pet was not exposed to Lyme disease.


For more information on ticks visit:

For information on the distribution of tick-borne infections in dogs in Ontario visit: 

Christmas Hazards

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Christmas Hazards to Animals

Christmas that great time of year, is arriving once again. This year don’t forget about the animals in your house. Christmas can be a great time for all the family including the family pet, if we all keep a few things in mind over the holidays.

When decorating your house for the Christmas season, remember that poinsettia’s, cacti, holly berry etc. are toxic to animals if eaten. Plants are best kept out of reach of curious pets. Also watch where you place candles. They can cause severe burns or star a fire if knocked over by a curious pet. If you have candles lit this holiday season, place them up high, and keep an eye on your cat to prevent singed whiskers!

The Christmas tree is always a great reminder that Christmas is on its way. When decorating, keep in mind that animals might chew on the ornaments or tinsel. During the Christmas holidays it isn’t unusual for the vets to see animals with decorations that have become lodged in the intestine and/or cut the intestinal wall. Removal for such objects can require surgery.

When the whole family sits down to Christmas dinner to enjoy a great meal, you might want to remind your guests that giving your dog turkey bones isn’t a good idea. It could get lodged and require surgical removal. Also, alcoholic beverages are not good to give to the animals. An ounce of a drink that is 20 to 40 proof can cause alcohol poisoning in a small dog.

Now it’s time to get the gift- wrapping done. But of course there is a list of things to look out for there too. Ribbon, trim polystyrene foam packaging, wrapping foil and paper are dangerous if eaten by your pet. Always wrap packages in an area away from your pet. Collect and discard all the waste and any wrapping paper and supplies you are using should be put away. If you have any gifts for your dog, use plain brown paper, wrap loosely and supervise the unwrapping.

We all like a bit of extra chocolate over the holidays. We need to be aware that this substance is poisonous to our family pets, (dark chocolate is the worst). Even a small amount of chocolate to a small dog can make them very ill. Make sure that gifts of chocolate under the tree are not left with an unsupervised family pet.

If we keep all of these thing in mind, we all will have a safe and happy holiday season.

Merry Christmas from the Vets and Staff of the New Hamburg Veterinary Clinic

photo credit View page:

No Hot Pets

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The summer weather is here and we all know how hot it can get inside a car in the blazing sun. Yet still, every year, we hear stories of pets left unattended in cars. There are all kinds of reasons why this happens, but this year the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) has set up a campaign using the hashtag #nohotpets to raise awareness that their really are no good excuses for this kind of treatment for our pets.

Below is the link to the No Hot Pets website with information on how to report if you see a pet in need. Also included is the No Hot Pets pledge, saying that we will not leave our pets unattended this summer and some social media posters to use to help raise awareness.

Also, here are some resources for recognizing heat stroke in dogs

Keep your hot dogs cool this summer!

Tick Talk

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This spring has been exceptionally warm, exceptionally early. All kinds of creepy crawlies like it when the warm weather starts. Fleas, Ticks, Mosquitos, Larvae from intestinal parasites, and others become active when we do in the spring & summer. The risk of transmission to our pets is higher this time of year because of this increase in activity and our own time spent outside.

Ticks are one species of parasite that can bite and attach themselves to our pets as well as to people. Creepy! But also dangerous as some species of ticks can transmit Lyme disease; a blood parasite that affects many species (humans and dogs among them). Below are two great articles on ticks and Lyme disease. If you or your pet frequent wooded areas or have contact with wildlife then tick prevention and Lyme disease awareness are important for you and your family. Prevention includes awareness, long sleeves and long pants (for people) anti-parasite medications (for pets) and vaccines for at risk animals. Please ask us how we can be a part of your preventative program.

Winterize your pets

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The mild weather in the first part of this winter may have lulled us into a false sense of security, but now the cold weather is here and with it come winter hazards for our pets.

The most obvious of these is sub-zero temperatures and the risk of cold exposure, frost-bite and freezing. Because cats and dogs regulate their temperature differently than we do (panting rather than sweating) and have thick fur coats, it is easy to assume that they will be fine outside. Temperatures can change quickly in the dead of winter and day time highs can be deceptively different from night time lows. Ensuring limited exposure to these temperatures is important for all animals that spend a significant amount of time outdoors. Wind-chill can also be a huge factor in cold exposure for animals, decreasing the temperature by as much as 15 degrees on windy nights. Providing insulated shelter for outdoor animals will significantly reduce this hazard. If this is not possible, consider making arrangements to bring animals indoor on the coldest winter nights. Awareness is the key to keeping our pets safe. Check the temperature & forecast and adjust the amount of time your animals spend outdoors accordingly

Antifreeze is a common winter toxin; antifreeze has a sweet taste and can be easily consumed by animals at any time of the year, but it’s use is more prevalent in the winter months. The toxin forms crystals within the kidneys and even small volumes can cause irreversible kidney damage to pets. Careful storage and cleanup is needed with this dangerous chemical.

Salt on the roads mean salt exposure for pets. Many dogs walked on salted roadways will suffer irritation from the high concentrations of salt on their feet or on the sensitive skin between their toes. Licking affected feet after walking can also mean that the pets ingest the salts and this can lead to vomiting, diarrhea or other gastrointestinal upset. Avoiding salted roadways, cleaning feet after time outdoors or the application of foot coverings (Doggie Boots) can all help.

Winter can be cold and long, and we all have to go out in it (including our pets). With some fore-sight and planning we can all enjoy the cold months ahead and stay safe.

For more information, please see this article from the New Hamburg Veterinary Clinic website.

Poinsettias, Holly and Mistletoe- Are they in your Holiday plans?

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The Holiday season is a time when new decorations come out, old friends stop by with gifts and we all get a little busier in our lives. All of these things can mean that our pets are placed at higher risk of exposure to dangers. New things in the house are always interesting to curious pets and more time unsupervised can mean more opportunity to get into trouble. The question always comes up each year- what do we need to look out for? Any non-food item that is eaten runs the risk of creating a blockage in the stomach or intestines of our pets, and items like strings, threads or tinsel are common causes of blockage in cats because of their curious, playful nature. Foods that are new, eaten in excess or high in fat are common problems for dogs in the holiday season and often cause vomiting or diarrhea, but can be more problematic if they affect the pet’s pancreas causing pancreatitis. Toxic plants are also commonly included in the holiday season “No-No” list for pets and pet friendly homes. For a good review of problem plants and other concerns, have a look at this article from the New Hamburg Veterinary Clinic website;

Or another great resource is the ASPCA Animal Poison Control website listing poisonous plants, foods and household products;

And chocolate toxicity is such a common problem in pets that there is a website dedicated to calculating toxic doses;

So what should you do if you think that your dog has been exposed to something dangerous? The above resources are great information, but if you are concerned please call our clinic. We have a veterinarian on call and provide after hours emergency services 24 hours a day. You can reach the New Hamburg Veterinary Clinic at 519-662-1525.

Pet-proofing for the holidays is always difficult, but preventing exposure is the best approach to keeping pets safe. Keeping food items and problem decorations above pet level can be helpful, but if your pet has a curious nature then keeping toxic plants, foods or decorations out of your house may be the best bet for a safe and happy holiday season.

Scary Foods for your Pet

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Halloween is a time that we think of candies and foods that our pets should avoid, but the reality is, these foods can do ghastly things to our little ghouls any time of the year. Here is a list of foods to avoid provided by the ASPCA;