Spring is in the air and ticks are on the ground just waiting to hitch a ride on you and your pets. As many of you are aware, the tick populations have dramatically increased in both numbers and locations. Ticks are also becoming more active throughout the entire year, including the winter months.
Did you know?
- While ticks themselves cause only mild irritation, they can carry diseases that pose a serious threat to animals and humans.
- Ticks can be prevented by regular use of tick control products.
- Just pulling off a tick can leave body parts attached to your dog. Killing the tick while it is attached will cause the tick to rapidly release potentially infective material into the host. Ask your veterinarian about proper tick removal and tick control.
- Illnesses transmitted by ticks can cause fever, anemia, paralysis, lameness, and other symptoms.
- People cannot catch Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever from infected dogs, but the same ticks that bite dogs can cause these illnesses and others, if they bite humans.
- Adult ticks can live up to 3 years without a blood meal.
- Ticks live on three different animals during their life (life stages).
- Most ticks spend the majority of their life OFF the host (animal) in the environment.
- Ticks can’t jump and don’t “fall from trees”, as most people think, but transfer onto hosts when animals or humans walk through long grass, bushes, and brush.
- Ticks only require 4 degrees Celsius to be active, and as warmer winter temperatures become more common, so do the number of months we can find ticks.
We are approaching the largest tick bloom of the year – SPRING!
Many different tick species are now found in Southern Ontario. ALL have the potential of carrying any number of diseases (not just Lyme Disease), that can be transmitted to pets and people. The following are types of common ticks that might be found in our area: the Deer Tick; the Brown Dog Tick; the Lone Star Tick and the American Dog Tick.
The best way to protect yourselves and your pets from these nasty disease carrying parasites is to reduce your exposure.
Ask your veterinarian about safe pet products. New oral medications are very effective, easy to give, are safe for dogs as young as 8 weeks and one type can even last for 3 months. While the topical dog products can be very toxic to cats coming into contact with them, the oral medications eliminate that worry.
If you have a tick problem in your yard, consider:
- Treat the outdoor environment (be sure to understand what products you are using and how they affect the environment)
- Make landscape changes to make the environment less tick friendly – this can be done by providing a 3 foot buffer between the lawn and any woods. Mulch, wood chips, or gravel, work well, and help to decrease the migration of ticks into yards.
- Rid your yard of migrating wild animals or strays
If you find a tick on your pet (or a family member), take care in removing it from the skin, making sure you remove the entire tick including the head and mouth-pieces. Once the tick is removed, clean the attachment site on the skin with soap and water. If you are unsure or unable to remove the tick on your own, seek care from a veterinary professional (or medical professional for yourself or a family member).
Save the tick in a doubled plastic, sealable bag or plastic container. If you are unable to submit the tick in a timely manner, make sure you include a small piece of moistened paper towel to keep the tick from drying out (which makes species identification and testing for disease more difficult).
For more information about ticks and how to protect yourself, your pets, and family, please consult your veterinarian, local health unit, your medical doctor or visit these websites:
This information has been provided by Grand River Veterinary Hospital in Caledonia.