ABC-Animal - Parasitology Chronicle

Can your animal catch parasites in fall and winter ?

Both true AND false, since in Canada, all animals are preparing for winter between October and December, including parasites like ticks, fleas and parasite eggs. Some of the parasites die in the cold weather, but others survive. What’s the solution ?

Parasite eggs resist cold temperatures and survive for years
The insulating properties of snow make it possible for parasite eggs to resist light frost and very cold temperatures. The temperature difference between the air and ground covered in 40 cm of snow can vary by 25 degrees

Pick up and throw out all animal fecal material
This includes skunk and racoon droppings. These animals become very active in the fall as they work on increasing their fat reserves. Their droppings contain the Baylisascaris parasite, which is very dangerous for both humans and animals.

Ticks want their last meal
Before winter and the snow arrive, ticks look for a host animal that can provide a last meal. When your pets get back from a trip outside, brush and examine them carefully. Tiny ticks could be hiding in their. Ticks take a grip anywhere on the body and stick to the skin for several days. With its saliva, each tick can inject infectious health-threatening agents into your pet. Remove it as quickly as possible, just as you would a sliver, taking care to remove the head and to avoid breaking it. Take the tick to your vet for identification.

Fleas seek heat
Animals look for shelter when the cold weather arrives, and may find themselves taking refuge in the same places as stray animals, which increases the risk of bringing fleas and other fur parasites back home.

Important preventive program
Is your animal on a parasite prevention program ? Administer until the very last dose, since no treatment is 100% effective. Until the snow is permanently installed for winter, your pets can still get infected. If they also hunt small rodents and birds, important sources of parasites, they will be at risk of infection all year round. Therefore, consider protecting your pet with a deworming program for up to twelve months a year if necessary.

Planning a trip ? Think protection
Are you taking your pet on a trip ? Check with your vet on how to protect your furry friend against regional diseases.

Be vigilant ! Protect your pet from parasites in both fall and winter.

Alain Villeneuve, D.V.M., Ph. D.
Veterinarian, professor of parasitology
Faculty of Veterinarian Medecine, Université de Montréal, Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec, Canada
Author of the book : « Les zoonoses parasitaires : l’infection chez les animaux et chez l’homme »
Edition : « Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal », 2003