With the snow all gone and the warmer weather upon us, pet owners need to be aware of a few springtime dangers.
Ticks are pesky little parasites that attach to your pet and feed off them. They have the potential risk of transmitting several diseases. There are multiple species of ticks, and they come in different sizes and colours. The nymphs are roughly the size of a sesame seed, and an unfed adult can be the size of an apple seed. After attaching and feeding the tick’s body will increase in size. A fully fed adult tick can get as large as a grape. It’s more common to find ticks outdoors in leaf litter, shrubs or bushes. Ticks also exist in non-wooded areas such as long grass. Ticks don’t fly but rather “quest” by stretching out their forelegs to grab and cling onto a passing animal or human. It is important to check your pet for ticks after they have spent any time outdoors. If you find a tick on your pet, the first priority is to remove it before it has a chance to attach.
Porcupines are herbivores, slow moving and have a great sense of smell. Because they are nocturnal, they do most of their feeding in the early evening. By nature, they are not aggressive, but will happily defend themselves. Each quill is equipped with tiny barbs, much like a fishhook. When the quill goes into the skin, it’s difficult and painful to pull out. A misconception is that porcupines can shoot their quills, they cannot. With porcupines being primarily nocturnal animals it’s smart to prevent your pet from going into wooded areas between dusk and dawn. If your pet comes in contact with a porcupine – seek medical attention. Generally, dogs need sedation to have the quills removed safely and pain-free. It is important to understand that there may be quills that cannot be removed; these quills will need to be monitored for migration. Unfortunately, most dogs that get into trouble with porcupines never learn from their mistakes and often are repeat offenders.
Skunks are naturally very docile animals but if a skunk becomes alarmed or threatened it will spray as a defence mechanism. Before the skunk sprays, they try to deter the threat by either hissing or arching their tail high over its back. If your pet persists, the skunk will aim and unleash its repugnant spray. Most commonly dogs will be sprayed on or around the head area. The smell is undeniable, and it can linger for up to a year if not entirely removed from your dog’s skin and coat, which makes bathing your dog quickly after a skunk incident essential. Also, the spray can be very irritating to the eyes so if you notice that your dog’s eyes are red or watering you can wash them with cool water. While there may not be a foolproof method to prevent your dog from being sprayed, there are ways to help your pet avoid being sprayed. Skunks are nocturnal animals, and by leash walking your dog in the early evening it can help prevent spray incidents, you can also have lights in your backyard to make it a less desirable place for skunks to frequent.
Written by: Barriefield Animal Hospital