Veterinarians Remind Pet Owners of the Importance of Disease & Parasite Prevention This Spring

TORONTO, May 15, 2013 /CNW/ - With the warmer weather upon us, fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and a variety of other parasites can pose a threat to our animals. The Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) reminds pet owners to protect their animals from parasite borne diseases with proper testing and preventative treatments. "Parasite prevention is safe, easy and economical when compared to treating a disease," says Dr. Katrin Schmidt, OVMA President. "As veterinarians our goal is to safeguard animal and human health; prevention truly is the best medicine."

The tick parasite is already being reported by veterinary clinics across Ontario, with some confirmed cases of pets testing positive for Lyme disease. The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care reports endemic populations of ticks in the following areas: Point Pelee National Park, Rondeau Provincial Park, Turkey Point Provincial Park, Long Point peninsula (including Long Point Provincial Park and the National Wildlife area), Wainfleet bog region near Welland, Prince Edward Point, and the Thousand Islands National Park. Ticks are present throughout the province and can easily travel on a host, such as migratory birds, deer and pets.

Early symptoms of Lyme disease usually occur within one to two weeks, but can occur as soon as three days or as long as a month, after a tick bite. Symptoms of Lyme disease may include: fever, decreased appetite, swollen, painful joints (animal may be reluctant to move), lethargy, swollen lymph nodes and lameness.

Mosquitoes are another parasite to contend with, and are known to carry a variety of illnesses including Heartworm Disease. Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition caused by parasitic worms living in the arteries of the lungs and occasionally in the right side of the heart of dogs, cats and other species of mammals, including wolves, foxes, ferrets, sea lions and (in rare instances) humans. A study on "Heartworm in dogs in Canada in 2010" published by the Ontario Veterinary College's Department of Pathobiology at the University of Guelph revealed a 60 per cent increase in the number of dogs in Ontario with heartworm since the last study of its kind was conducted in 2002. A simple blood sample is all that's needed to test for heartworm, and preventative treatments are readily available to guard pets against infection.

OVMA urges pet owners to contact their local veterinary clinic to determine the best level of prevention possible for your animal, according to their health, ago and the risks in your area.

Founded in 1980, the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association represents thousands of Ontario veterinarians in private practice, government, academia, industry and public service. Its mandate is to advance and promote excellence in the veterinary profession in Ontario, and contribute to the betterment of animal health and the protection of human health.

SOURCE: Ontario Veterinary Medical Association

For further information:

Melissa Carlaw, OVMA Manager of Communications & Public Relations 
905.875.0756, ext  15 or mcarlaw@ovma.org

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