Hitch-Hikers Lurking in Brampton, Ontario

I’m sure you are sick of us here at Snelgrove Vet always talking about ticks, but this week we had a dog brought in to have a tick removed that we typically don’t even see in Ontario! When we removed the tick, I have to admit, the staff here had different opinions of what type of tick it was. However, one thing we could all agree on was the small white dot present on it’s back. The only tick we know of that has that dot is The Lone Star Tick (which gets its name from that spot.) This tick is predominately found in the eastern, south-eastern and central United States.

So, what exactly does that mean?

In order to confirm the identity of this mystery tick, we sent it to our local laboratory for definitive identification. And yes, we were right – it was indeed a Lone Star tick. Now the big question was, where did it come from and how did it end up in Brampton, Ontario??

We asked the owner “Have you been travelling?” “Have you had someone come visit you?” “Have you taken your dog anywhere?” and the answer to all of our questions was, “No, our dog has not left our backyard.” We then decided to give the laboratory a call and speak to the parasitologist. We asked him, “Are you sure of your identification?” Definitely not a question to be asking a professional with a medical degree, but we did it anyway. And yes! It is a Lone Star tick and although they are not native to Ontario they are found here occasionally – usually hitching a ride on a migratory bird. Now that’s hitch-hiking!

Due to their voracious appetite, the Lone Star tick actively seeks people and animals to feed from. Yuck.

Now, our question to you is: Do you love Hamburgers and Steaks?

If the answer is yes, then here’s a scary piece of information… A bite from this tick can actually make you seriously allergic to red meat! Yep, you heard us right – allergic to the point of going into anaphylactic shock and taking an emergency trip to the hospital.

As if that isn’t bad enough, they can also cause a myriad of other health issues as well, such as Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness (S.T.A.R.I.), Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, ehrlichiosis and tularemia. And, although it is not yet proven that these ticks carry Lyme disease, some studies are starting to question otherwise.

In light of the discovery of this Lone Star tick on one of our patients here in Brampton, it’s probably a good thing we talk about ticks so often! 😉

Snelgrove Vet Services Spring Newsletter


Fleas, Ticks, Mosquitoes. OUCH!

What does warm weather, damp corners and dark shadows add up to? You guessed it. Fleas, ticks and mosquitoes. Lucky us.

Unfortunately for our pets, both ticks and mosquitoes can carry potentially fatal diseases that can be passed on. Ticks for example, can carry Lyme disease and mosquitoes can carry heartworms.

So, how do we deal with these insects?  That’s where we come in.

There are some wonderful products available for our pets to make sure that these diseases aren’t transferred from said insect to your pet. We have both chewable and topical medications to help control insects on your pet. The topicals we carry produce what is called a ‘Hot-foot’ effect. When a tick, flea or mosquito touches your pet’s skin it causes a burning sensation on the bottom of the insect’s feet causing them to hop off of your pet and not even have a chance to feed. This medication is then distributed through their body and kills them.

The chewables work by traveling through your pets blood stream and when an insect feeds, it is automatically ingesting this medication causing them to die. Both products work exceptionally well at controlling fleas and ticks. With regards to heartworm, transferred by mosquitoes, you do need a different medication.

Blood testing is strongly encouraged yearly for tick-borne diseases and mandatory for heartworm prevention. Many tick-borne diseases can be treated with a short course of antibiotics if detected early. Commonly symptoms of tick-borne diseases appear vague and often go unnoticed for long periods of time. Often many pet owners don’t know their dog is suffering from a debilitating tick disease until it is too late.

Symptoms of progressive tick-borne diseases can include but are not limited to;

  • joint pain and inflammation
  • low-grade persistent fever
  • swelling at bite site
  • loss of appetite
  • spontaneous and shifting lameness
  • reluctant to move
  • fatigue
  • lethargy
  • weight loss, may or may not, include muscle wasting
  • depression
  • neck pain
  • neurological signs
  • bruising on gums or belly
  • nosebleed
  • discharge from eyes
  • vomiting
  • generalized weakness

Where do ticks live?

Ticks are typically found in forested areas and any overgrown areas including our own backyards. They don’t typically like sunny short-grassed areas but that’s not to say they can’t be there.

Keep your lawn and outdoor play areas safe. Keep shrubs and grass trimmed. Clean up any leaves or debris, especially underneath bushes. Limit shrubs and plants from areas your children and/or pets frequent. i.e. swing-sets, outdoor dining areas, etc. Keep areas around sheds and other buildings free of debris especially in shady areas.

For more information and a map of tick disease in our area visit www.dogsandticks.com

Many people already know that fleas can live in our households, but did you know, so can the brown dog tick? These ticks will live and reproduce in our houses just like fleas and typically need an exterminator to get rid of. Topical preventives and checking your pets skin will help prevent these pesky creatures from moving into your home. We have also seen an increase of Deer Ticks in the Brampton area. These ticks are the carriers of Lyme disease.

Walk-in blood testing is available for your pets that do not need to see a veterinarian for any other reason.


May 1st – May 31st

Mon. 9:00-12:00 2:00-8:00

Tues. 9:00-12:00 2:00-7:00

Wed. 9:00-12:00 2:00-8:00

Thurs. 9:00-12:00 2:00-7:00

Fri. 9:00-12:00 2:00-7:00

Please note: Walk-Ins are NOT available during 12:00-2:00 pm nor on Saturdays



Cats can also be tested and placed on preventative. Due to the life-cycle of Feline Heartworm, many cats may have the parasite without showing any symptoms. Consider treating any cats that go outdoors, travel to the USA and/or southern Ontario or that have a chronic cough or wheeze.


If you notice a tick on yourself, a family member or pet, please use extreme caution when removing it or ask a professional to remove it for you. Many times the head can be left in the skin if not done properly.

Here are some of the products that we carry;

























Lyme Disease in Brampton

Recently the Brampton Guardian posted an article on Lyme disease in Peel

‘No ticks with Lyme disease found in Peel this year’

The purpose of this blog is just to remind you to the key part of this story, which is, that although we are not considered a high risk area, we still may get infected ticks here. Due diligence is required to be assured that you, your family and your pets do not get infected. Be sure to report all ticks to the proper authorities. (Remove the tick yourself or have a medical professional do it ASAP and keep it for them) ALL ticks should be considered a threat!

Just take a look at our blog from August 2014, ‘Truth of the Matter’ where our own doctor Suzanne McQueen discusses her experience with Lyme disease.

Remember to use an insect repellent on yourself and an appropriate tick prevention for your pets.

Thanks for reading 🙂

If you have any suggestions for topics you would like to read about, feel free to comment below.





Ticks: Friend or Foe?

We’re sure everybody already knows the answer to this, but definitely foe!!

Ticks can carry all sorts of, what are called, tick-borne diseases. Not only do they carry diseases that can be passed to us, such as, Lyme, Granulocytic Anaplasmosis, Human Babesiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Human Monocytic Ehrlichiosis, just to name a few. LOL. But they also pass on diseases to our pets.  Lyme , Ehrlichia, Bartonella, Babesia and Anaplasmosis are becoming more common amongst our pets.

IMG_3129Ticks are most commonly found in forested, heavily brushed areas and overgrown fields. They are transferred to us and our pets when we brush up against them and they quickly attach themselves to the body by embedding their head in the skin. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada there are seven ‘known endemic’ areas: Pointe- Pelee National Park, Rondeau Provincial Park,Turkey Point Provincial Park, Long Point peninsula including Long Point Provincial Park and the National Wildlife area, Wainfleet bog near Welland on the Niagara peninsula, Prince Edward Point and parts of the Thousand Islands National Park. Risk areas are locations around Kingston and along the Saint Lawrence valley to the border with Quebec that extend north east towards Ottawa. Risk areas have also been identified in western Ontario in the region of Lake of the Woods and at Pinery Park on the shore of Lake Huron.

In 2013, Lyme disease was confirmed in 682 people in Ontario, where as, only 338 in 2012.

2014 numbers have not yet been posted. These numbers are expected to grow exponentially yearly.

The risk of Lyme disease occurs where ticks that carry the Lyme disease-causing agent B. burgdorferi are found.

Our pets are extremely at risk of picking up some of these pesky pets and potentially getting bitten by an infected one.

So, what can we do?

IMG_3572We can keep our grass trimmed, weeds to a minimum and clean up areas around sheds. Check ourselves and our pets thoroughly after going for walks in tall grass or wooded areas.

There are also products on the market that can help kill these ticks prior to them infecting your pet. For example, Nexgard is a new product brought out by the makers of Heartgard. It kills both fleas and ticks in a tasty beef flavoured treat. Advantix is another product we strongly believe in. Not only does it kill fleas and ticks but it causes something called “HOT FEET” which essentially stings the tick’s feet as soon as they land on your pet causing them to leap off immediately rather than having to bite first.

Talk to your vet about Tick and Flea preventive or take a look on our website at www.snelgrovevet.com for more information on our available products.



Spring 2015

charlie 001 There’s a new product available in Canada this year  which the staff at Snelgrove Vet Services is quite  excited about. With the current influx of ticks in the  Brampton and Caledon area, Nexgard has finally  come to the Canadian market. Approved by Health  Canada to kill Blacklegged ticks (deer ticks),  American Dog ticks and the Lone  star tick. It also kills Brown Dog ticks. These are all known carriers of diseases such as, Lyme disease,  Ehrlichia and Anaplasma.  But, not only does  Nexgard kill ticks, it also kills fleas all month-long.

Pretty cool, right?

We thought so. But what’s really cool about Nexgard? For people or pets who don’t like topical flea and tick killers, its an oral beef-flavoured chew. And yes, it’s beef ‘flavoured’, so for those pets that may have a beef allergy, Nexgard is still safe to give. Given monthly it is proven to keep killing both fleas and ticks for the full 30 days.

Nexgard is also safe to use if you have cats in the house and is approved for dogs as young as 8 weeks of age.

The best thing about Nexgard, now we have choices. In a market dominated by topical products, it’s nice to have another option. Ask your vet what flea and tick prevention you should use on your pets this year.

Thanks for reading.


How do people and pets get Lyme Disease?

It seems there is some confusion over our previous post by Dr. Suzanne McQueen as to how can someone get Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is transmitted by the black-legged tick/deer tick (Ixodes scapularis). 

Most humans are infected through the bites of immature ticks called nymphs. Nymphs are tiny (less than 2 mm) approximately the size of a poppy-seed and are difficult to see; they feed during the spring and summer months. Adult ticks can also transmit Lyme disease bacteria, but they are much larger and may be more likely to be discovered and removed before they have had time to transmit the bacteria. Adult Ixodes ticks are most active during the cooler months of the year.

Ticks tend to live in grassy areas, forests, beaches and overgrown gardens. Wooded areas are their favorite. Deer ticks DO NOT live indoors! There is no evidence that dogs can transmit Lyme to humans nor vice versa.

If you would like more information on Lyme disease and it’s transmission, click on this link to the Public Health Agency of Canada’s website on Lyme disease. 

Thank you

Truth of the matter

suz face

As many of you know, I have been at Snelgrove Veterinary Services in Brampton, Ontario since 1992. Over the last 22 years I have seen many changes in the veterinary world.  I have spent many hours practicing vet medicine from a solo practitioner to an associate of many.  I love my job. I can’t imagine ever doing anything else.

Recently I hear a lot of complaints, from ” Wow, you really cut your hours back.” , to “You’re not working very much anymore?”, to “You better not be leaving, or retiring any time soon.”.   I have joked around and replied with “I put my hours in, now it’s time to ease up a bit” to ” early retirement” LOL!!

So now for the ‘Truth of the Matter’.

For the last 5 years or so I have had a myriad of symptoms, varying in degree and consistency.  The doctors have placed titles on my symptoms from chronic fatigue syndrome,  vertigo, immune mediated to arthritis.  It was for these reasons and these reasons alone that I indeed ‘had’ to cut my hours back.  The fatigue was not just “Oh I’m tired.” but it was a crippling exhaustion where I could not hold my shoulders up or even hold a conversation. I could sleep 14 hours and still have a 3 hour nap and be exhausted.  The joint pain felt like broken glass and traveled from joint to joint and the back pain was excruciating.

I went to every naturopath, homeopath and energy healer around. As well, I  saw osteopaths, had acupuncture, Bowen treatment, Chinese medicine and massage.  I tried diets, EMF units, vitamins, supplements and everything in between.

It wasn’t until I went to a pain specialist and he looked at my file and said “I bet you have Lyme disease!!!”   I thought ‘yeah, right!’  As far as I know I’d never been bitten by a tick, never had a typical target lesion and really I didn’t think it was all that prevalent around here.  However, I appeased this doctor and did the California Igenex test and low and behold I was positive across all 3 tests!!!

Wow! Lyme disease!!!

Finally an answer for all my obscure symptoms, that was good, I guess? Now for the downside. Doctors in Canada are not allowed to treat people for Lyme. That’s right, I had to drive to Plattsburgh, NY to see a Lyme-literate doctor for treatment.  And wow, what a treatment!!! Multiple antibiotics, including an anti malarial drug, vitamins and a strict no sugar, no yeast diet.

And so the journey begins. So far I am 3 months into treatment and not feeling a whole lot different. But as my doctor said, I’ve had this for a long time and it will take time to heal.  The other issue is that ticks are like the sewers.  Not only do they carry Lyme but other exciting organisms like Babesia and Bartonella. Be sure to watch not only your pets for unsuspected ticks but yourself too!!!  This is quickly becoming a true problem in Ontario for us and our pets. And that is the ‘Truth of the Matter’!

Written by Dr. Suzanne McQueen