Echinococcus tapeworm emerging in Ontario – how to protect your dog and yourselves

By Parasite, Pet Health

Since 2012, we have been receiving reports of dogs developing a serious disease caused by the tapeworm, Echinococcus multilocularis (E. mulit for short).  While tapeworms are not unusual in dogs and cats, most are more of a nuisance than a serious health concern.  E. multi is a new game in town.

microscope image of E. multi tapeworm

Microscope image of E. multi tapeworm

This tiny parasite (3 mm long as an adult) infects wild canids, particularly coyotes and foxes.  Microscopic tapeworm eggs are ingested by an intermediate host, typically small rodents, and dogs and cats become infected when they ingest these rodents.  In this situation, the dog or cat will develop the intestinal adult parasite in their gut and begin shedding tapeworm eggs also.

adult coyote standing in the snowUnlike common tapeworms, however, dogs and people can become accidental intermediate hosts for the disease by accidently ingesting the tapeworm eggs directly from contaminated from coyote or fox feces.  In this situation, the tapeworm can form cysts in the liver or lungs of the dog or person, a condition known as Alveolar Echinococcus, and this is what we have been seeing since 2012.  A dog may present with expanding and large cysts within its liver or lungs, gradually destroying the normal tissues.  In people, this condition can take 5 to 15 years, making diagnosis difficult.

A recent study of Ontario coyote populations demonstrated 23% of fecal samples were infected with the tapeworm, raising concerns for pet and human health.  Please read the article from Dr. Scott Weese of the University of Guelph for more information: or at

Prevention of Echinococcus can only be directed at the intestinal form of the disease by treating dogs regularly with Praziquantal, a safe and effective dewormer.  Dogs that may be at risk are those that may ingest rodents or wildlife poop.  Unfortunately, the Alveloar form of the disease that develops from eating coyote feces is more difficult to prevent.

boxes of Interceptor PlusWe now carry Interceptor Plus for prevention of tapeworms in dogs.  As you may be aware, monthly Interceptor pills are used for Heartworm, roundworm, hookworm and whipworm prevention during the summer and fall.  Interceptor Plus contains Praziquantal also and can be used to prevent Echinococcus infection.  Used for this purpose, it can be given monthly during anytime of the year that the dogs are considered at risk (may eat rodents or coyote/fox poop).

Please take the time to read the attached information on E. multi and speak to our staff if you have further questions or would like to use Interceptor Plus for your dog.


Dr. Nigel Gumley

Cedarview Animal Hospital

Tick Season Is Here!

By Parasite

Over the past few years, we have been seeing an increase in tick bites and more positive Lyme disease tests, so it is important to know the facts.Ticks tend to live in tall grasses and forested areas.

Deer TickThere are 3 types of ticks that are more common in Ottawa and surrounding areas, and several tick borne diseases. The tick we are most concerned about is the deer tick (ixodes scapularis). They become active at temperatures of 4 Celsius and above, which means that with the warm weather the ticks are out early this year! Due to every month having at least one warm day where ticks could bite we are now recommending year round protection from ticks! One bite is all it takes.

They are attracted to the warmth and motion of mammals, and as a dog  (or human) walks by, ticks will climb on or drop onto their host, attach their mouthparts into the skin and start feeding. Once they have fed for several hours, they grow in size and can be much more easily noticed. Be sure to run your hands over your dog after they come in from outside and check for ticks very carefully – they are very small and can easily be missed!

Deer ticks are the only tick in the area which carry lyme disease. These ticks need to feed for about 24-48 hours before they can transmit the disease. Signs of lyme disease are usually mild and include fever, lameness, stiffness, swollen joints, and enlarged lymph nodes, but can become severe and cause severe kidney disease among other concerns.

In the event of a tick bite we monitor for signs of lyme disease and run a screening test called a SNAP 4Dx, which checks for the immune system’s response to lyme disease. This test cannot tell us whether a dog will become afflicted with the disease, just that there is exposure to the bacteria.

You can help protect your dog from ticks, and the diseases they carry, by using preventative medication. There are many different types of preventative medications so be sure to ask your vet which is right for you and your pet.

It’s That Time of Year Again!

By Parasite

Dog 3

It’s the time of the year we all look forward to: maple sap running, the hint of warm Spring air, and our canine companions enjoying the out of doors without the requisite coats and booties.  While seeing the grass again is rejuvenating, it is also the time of year to remind us of the critters waiting to greet our pets.

Ticks have become the emerging parasite of discussion at most veterinary hospitals in Eastern Ontario.  While fleas are always of concern, most of our pets have been safely managed for flea infestations so that seeing flea problems is not what it used to be.

Ticks, however, have adapted to the changes in climate and geography, bringing with them several tick-borne infections, namely Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis.

Ontario has three common varieties of ticks, the American Dog Tick, the Brown Dog Tick and the Deer (Ixodes) Tick, the latter of which carries Lyme disease.  It is this l tick that we now see more commonly, having moved up from the Northeast States and into Eastern Ontario and Quebec.

American Dog Tick

American Dog Tick

Brown Dog Tick

Brown Dog Tick

Deer Tick

Deer Tick

Ticks begin their seasonal feeding early, between 4 and 20C, as soon as snow cover is off the ground.  While they feed all year in cooler areas, we predictably see a Spring and a Fall flush of ticks, lasting until there is once again heavy snow cover.

Engorged Female Tick

Engorged Female Tick

Ticks can be picked up in nymph or adult stages.  The nymph Deer tick is the size of a pin-head, making it difficult to find on many dogs.  The engorged, fed adult tick, however, is the size of a small finger nail, more easily found unless the pet’s coat is long.

This year we have a new product available to dog owners for tick prevention, Bravecto.  Launched by Merck at the end of 2014, it appears safe and effective for all three ticks, and safe in all breeds.

Bravecto’s primary advantage over other products is that it also lasts for three months, so that a typical dog will only need three doses for the whole season.  Bravecto is licensed for dogs over 6 months of age due to the need for a stable body weight for correct dosing.  For dogs between 2 and 6 months of age, we also have available, Nexguard, a new monthly oral tablet.

For clients wishing the traditional topical tick control, K9 Advantix, it will still be available for use.

As a reminder, we recommend all dogs be tested annually in the Spring for the three tick-borne illnesses as well as Heartworm, if exposure is considered a risk.

Contact the staff at Cedarview Animal Hospital at 613-825-5001 for further information, to book testing, or to order your tick prevention for Fido.