Fleas and ticks in Ontario – It’s Springtime

‘Tis the season to protect our pets from creepy crawly critters! While fleas and ticks can be a pesky problem year round in Ontario, these blood suckers thrive in the spring, summer and fall. Here we will list some of the differences between fleas and ticks, what to look out for, and preventatives.

Let’s start with fleas. They bounce, they jump, they’re lightning fast and spread like wildfire! Unlike ticks, fleas are not known to carry disease, but can cause annoying itching, allergic reactions, flea bite dermatitis and home invasions!

Fleas can jump from animal to animal and hide in the environment until finding a host to feed on.

Comb through your dog’s coat regularly, going against the grain looking for anything black and moving. Fleas can move amazingly quickly so it is not uncommon for dog guardians to not be able to spot them. Black specs on the skin can also indicate the presence of flea dirt (a nice way of saying feces). Check the warm areas like the armpits and groin as these become cozy hiding spots for fleas.

Other signs your dog may be carrying some unwelcome guests are excessive scratching, chewing at themselves, shaking of the head and ears, hair loss, black spots or scabs on the skin especially in the belly, groin or base of tail areas.

The best preventative is a veterinarian approved treatment. There are many options now available including effective holistic treatments. Speak to your vet today about the best option for your pup!

Now let’s jump to ticks! (pun intended)

Unlike fleas, ticks crawl. They often crawl up their prey from grass and shrubbery. They can also be carried on another animal they feed off of, such as rodents or birds and land in a new environment.

When a tick bites, they remain in one place to feed. These multi legged cousin of the spider, will latch on and change colour and size as they fill up on the blood of your pet. Creepy! The good news is they do not jump from pet to pet and do not multiply and infest the home environment. Although, they can latch on to you as well so it is important to check yourself over as well as your dog after walks especially in wooded areas and grassy fields.

When spotting a tick, it is best to remove it right away. Ticks can carry Lyme disease which can take as little as 24 hours to cause an infection after a bite. However not all ticks are the same and don’t always carry this disease. However, the sooner you remove the tick, the greater the chance of preventing the risk of infection.

It is important to remove the tick by the head, specifically ensuring you are removing the “fangs” burrowed in your beloved. If you are unsure of how to do this, there are products available for tick removal at most pet supply stores and helpful YouTube videos. Many grooming salons will also be able to help. Of course, the best way to be sure it is done correctly, is to see your vet as soon as possible. Your vet clinic will also be able to send the tick for testing to rule out the potential of Lyme disease.

We at Park9; strive to protect our guests from parasites and illness to the best of our ability. We require a veterinarian approved flea prevention regiment from Spring through to the start of winter. Please contact us should you have any questions or concerns.

Free feeding versus timed feedings

A dog owner needs to make a lot of decisions and we’re always here to help you decide the best care for your best friend. Each dog is a little different so whether it’s testing out a new method or actively seeking a solution, there are many reasons to consider whether you want to Free Feed or have your dog on a Timed Feeding schedule. Leaving food out for a dog to eat whenever it wants is called free feeding. Setting your dog’s dinner down at a specific time is referred to as timed feedings. Park9 Manager Staci outlines some pros and cons:

Free Feeding:

Pros:

Convenient for people with fluctuating schedules

Cons:

You never know exactly how much your dog is eating (which is especially important in growing puppies, frail seniors and dogs with health issues)

It’s wasteful as whatever’s not eaten should go into the garbage

The food remains less fresh when exposed to air than in an airtight container or sealed bag

Timed Feeding:

Pros:

Knowing exactly how much your dog is eating

Can help with food-based training methods

Provides energy throughout the day

Can help with weight loss and gain

Helps create a more reliable elimination schedule

Can help with crate training

Grazers and finicky dogs are more likely to start eating more regularly when they realize what they don’t eat disappears

Cons:

It may take a few tries and some time to switch over a free feeder

It can be difficult to know your dog doesn’t have food available when you’re away and pup may be hungry

Much like people dogs need calories to burn when expending energy. Running around on empty isn’t a good thing

Hope that’s helpful. Be sure to ask a Park9 staffer if you have any more questions.

Winter Paw Care

While your furry friend may not share your cold-weather woes inside their warm coat, there are still steps we need to take to protect them during the winter months. Your dog’s paws are especially vulnerable on cold, slushy and salty streets and a pair of booties will serve you well in preventing frostbite, painful dryness and cracks as well as chemical burns from toxic de-icing products.

Not all pups are amenable to footwear, so you may want to consider alternative options for keeping those fluffy feet in good shape until spring. Making sure your dog’s pads are moisturized by massaging them with a paw balm or petroleum jelly will offer a first line of defense from injury as a result of cold and salt, and you’ll want to make sure furry paws are kept trim so the hair doesn’t collect clumps of ice and snow that will get stuck in between their toes. Looking after toenails is always important, but especially so in the winter as long nails will cause toes to splay out on the ground, exposing tender inter-digital skin to the elements. Shorter, more frequent trips outside is often advisable during periods of extreme cold.

You may find that giving your pet frequent baths during the winter months can lead to dry, flaky skin by stripping the skin of essential oils that keep things smooth under all that fur. Try rinsing and drying your dog’s feet immediately after walks paired with regular brushing instead and if they need a bath, make sure to use a moisturizing shampoo or rinse.

The Importance of Brushing

A well maintained coat is not only a testament to your dog’s good looks, but to his or her health as well. Proper brushing and deshedding will help to eliminate dust, dander, dead hair and excess undercoat trapped on your best friend! Regular brushing will keep matting at bay, keeping your best friend more comfortable between grooming and bathing sessions.

Excess matting and undercoat can hide some pretty gross and potentially serious problems. Conditions such as hotspots, dermatitis and parasites can often be found under coats that have been left too long. Lumps, bumps, insect stingers, embedded burrs; we’ve even found paperclips! Rule of thumb: if you can’t clearly see your dog’s skin, it’s probably time for a brush out!

We use only the best tools on the market, tried and tested on our own dogs and shared with you and yours!

We recognize that each dog is unique and each coat type is different and will personalize the service based on your dog’s individual needs

supervision & standards

This has been a difficult few days for dog guardians and the dog industry in our city. A van with 16 dogs was stolen from a dog walking company. We pride ourselves on offering an expert opinion, particularly when our clients and friends have reached out for more information. In this blog post Susan, our Founder, shares some insight into the industry and offers some information to our clients on how Park9 has chosen to transport dogs in our care.

Some have started to question our actions as an industry from this incident. Firstly, it is important to understand that the dog industry is not regulated and therefore each dog company owner is responsible for setting their own standards of care. We each choose our own methods to ensure dogs are safe and healthy while in our care and we all run our businesses somewhat differently. You, as the consumer, must ask questions that will help you find the right provider for the level of care you desire. Word of mouth is only one barometer; you still should do your homework.

I cannot speak for how others choose to operate but I can share how Park9 (and from our beginnings as Urbandog Fitness + Spa 13 years ago) have chosen to do so.

When we transport our dogs between locations, each dog is moved in a crash tested harness and secured for safety by a tie down in the van. We transport a maximum of 6 to 7 dogs at any one time. We believe this allows personal space for each dog and helps to regulate the temperature in the back of the van. The van is equipped with non-skid anti fatigue matting for both the comfort and safety of the dogs.

When dogs are being dropped at a location, we use a buddy system so dogs are not left unattended for periods of time in the van. A staff member meets the van and driver to bring the dog(s) into the building.

Our trips are less than 30 minutes, but we feel that these measures are still vital in meeting the same standard we apply in our daycare.

We are extremely happy and relieved that all the dogs that were taken with the van on Friday were found same day and returned home safely. It was the best possible ending to a difficult day for all involved. I’m sure there were extra treats and plenty of hugs that night!

Susan Rupert

Founder/CEO

Park9 Urbandog Playcare & Resorts

how to choose a playcare facility

Asking yourself how to choose a doggie daycare or dog boarding facility (kennel) can be a big question. This is the place your best friend will be spending a lot of time. You’re essentially interviewing the people who will be overseeing their care. Loving guardians want the best for their dog, but sometimes it’s hard to know what it is your don’t know! Whether you’re going to be joining us at one of our three Park9 locations or searching amongst our colleagues; we’ve compiled a checklist of things to ask your prospective playcare.

The Introductory Process

Do they have an enrollment process? Is your dog (and therefore all dogs at a playcare facility) assessed for suitability? Temperament? To determine an appropriate playgroup?

Do they ask you for details of your dog’s history to help them during their assessment?

Do they require proof of vaccinations at the time of admittance? Do they insist vaccinations are kept up to date?

The Staff

Are dogs supervised at all times while in their care? Even overnight?

Are staff trained in dog group play? Dog behavior? Pet first aid?

What is the staff ratio like? Ideally, you’re looking for one trained staff member for every 10-15 dogs, depending on the group.

Are staff trained to administer medication if provided?

The Environment

Does the facility have resilient flooring? With your dog running and playing in this spot for several hours a day, it’s important to ensure their joints and paws are well looked after.

Will your dog ever be crated while in their care (and /or unsupervised)? You may be okay with this but you need to know.

Is there adequate space per dog to allow for healthy play? Ideally you’re looking for 50-100 sq. ft. per dog.

Do the dogs have access to fresh water at all times?

Is the facility clean? Is it odour free? Ask for a tour.

Does the building have A/C that they use in the summer? Is the building heated in the winter?

Do they employ some form of air sterilization? This would be ideal in order to prevent airborne diseases such as Canine Cough. Like children’s daycare, bugs can be passed around.

Is there proper security in place? You should look for 8-foot-high fencing in outdoor areas and double gating throughout the facility.

The Care

Are large groups of dogs separated based on their size and/or playstyle?

Do the dogs have plenty of group play time as well as appropriate rest time?

Can you bring your own dog’s food for feed times? This is especially important for boarding facilities.

Are dogs fed individually and rested after feedings? This is important to observe each dog’s intake and (especially in the case of deep chested dogs) for healthy digestion.

Is there proper protocol in place for emergencies? Does the facility have a consulting veterinarian? What are the emergency vet protocols should your dog require medical attention while in their care?

If dogs have access to grassy outdoor spaces or outdoor water/ponds, do they have a protocol for managing ticks and access to dirty water? Ticks are especially common in southern Ontario and can be life threatening. Water can carry bacteria such as guardia that can cause digestive issues such as prolonged diarrhea…Knowing that these issues are addressed in their protocols will help to keep you dog healthy while you are away.

If dogs are transported, what vehicle safety protocol is in place? You should look for tie downs and harnesses. Dogs should be supervised at all times while being transported and never be left alone in the van.

Finally, as with any good business; ask yourself what level of transparency is there? Can you see the playgrounds? Can you observe other dogs, the suites or the room your dog will stay in while boarding? Web cams are a great way to stay in touch. Some playcare facilities may not have all the features we described. Some may have all of these and more and be priced accordingly! Ultimately, you must make the right choice for you and your dog when entrusting their care to a business so our last piece of advice is to trust your gut!