Parasite Prevention

Click HERE to download Huntington Animal Hospital’s Parasite Prevention FAQs.


Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi. This bacteria is spread through the bite of certain types of ticks. Infected tick populations are growing in Canada and are common in southern & eastern Ontario. Ticks are most active in the spring and fall.

In dogs, Lyme disease can cause lameness, pain, swollen joints, fever, swollen lymph nodes, and in severe cases kidney failure and death. Lyme disease is diagnosed with a blood test and is easily treated with antibiotics.

The best method of prevention is avoiding tick-infested areas and removing any identified ticks as soon as possible. Early removal will reduce the chance of the tick transmitting the bacteria. Highly effective veterinary products are available. They have been designed to kill ticks before they can transmit the bacteria.

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Heartworm is a blood parasite transmitted by infected mosquitoes. From the blood, the worms travel to the heart and blood vessels that supply the lungs. Here they grow and reproduce. The presence of these worms causes damage to the heart, lungs, and liver. In severe cases, they can cause death.

Heartworm is present in Ontario and common in the southern United States. If you have adopted a dog or travel with your own dog, it is important to have it tested for heartworm disease.

Heartworm is diagnosed with a blood test. Treatment is available however, it is costly and does pose potential health complications.

Heartworm prevention for all dogs is highly recommended. Preventive medications have been formulated to kill immature heartworms and stop the cycle of disease.


Common intestinal parasites include giardia, coccidia, hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, and whipworms. All of these parasites are shed in the saliva and feces of infected animals, therefore are common in the environment.

Routine microscopic fecal analysis of your pet’s feces is recommended in order to identify if your animal is infected with intestinal parasites.

To prevent parasite infection, routine (monthly) deworming, discouraging your pet from eating fees, and picking up fecal material in your yard is strongly recommended.

Please be advised that many intestinal parasites can be transmitted to you and your family.


Fleas are a common external parasite in cats and dogs. They commonly cause skin irritations, fur loss and can cause allergic reactions. Fleas can also transmit tapeworms to our pets.

Fleas are commonly found outdoors and can live for months indoors. Fleas are easily transmitted between animals, especially those in close contact.

Fleas can be most easily identified by looking for black flecks on your animal’s skin. These flecks look like pepper flecks and represent flea fecal droppings.

All animals infested or exposed to fleas should be treated with a safe, effective veterinary product. Over-the-counter treatments have been shown to be ineffective and can be dangerous to your pet.