Pet Patter: Tick Prevention for your pets

No tick is a good tick in the sense that they can carry infectious diseases that can create serious health problems for your pets.

In Canada, there are approximately 40 different species of ticks, but only a few carry disease causing bacteria like Lyme Disease (the black legged or deer tick) and Rocky Mountain spotted fever (the American Dog tick). Lyme Disease can cause serious fever, anemia, or swelling in your dog’s joints which can result in painful lameness or paralysis. Rocky mountain Spotted Fever can cause fever and lameness. Because the number of these types of ticks are increasing, pet owners need to be more vigilant in preventing exposure.

Ticks are external parasites that belong to the same family of bugs as spiders. They are most active during the summer and prefer areas with moist, dense vegetation or with open fields and will creep and crawl to the tips of grasses and shrubs to get a successful leap onto your pet passing by.

Once attached, they prefer to burrow their head in, or near, the ear of an animal where the skin is thin. They also prefer the animals head, neck, groin, around the tail, under their legs or between their toes. It is therefore good practice to check these areas of your pet daily after every walk or outing. Once a tick has had its fill of blood, they fall off, but because they are so small, most people will not notice it until it is already engorged with blood.

Get a year round tick prevention product administered orally or topically (most are combined with flea medication) this way you can protect your pet during those warm spells in fall and winter which are becoming more frequent due to climate change.

While there are tick prevention collars, this may not be a good option for those dogs that swim a lot or play with other dogs a lot as the chemicals within the collar can become diluted or worse ingested by your dog’s playmates.

It must be noted here, that while many outdoor cats are at risk for getting ticks,( although they are highly resistant to the Lyme disease causing bacteria), they are also very sensitive to chemicals and you should consult with your veterinarian before applying any tick prevention products.

It is also a good idea to ask your veterinarian about the safe removal of ticks and to purchase a tick removal kit. You can make your own kit by compiling the following items: tick identification pictures, tick removal instructions, tick removing key/ tool (purchased at local veterinarian clinic, pet or outfitting store), magnifying glass, small container to place the removed tick into (never crush the tick with your fingers), and antiseptic wipes.

While you cannot eliminate the risk of having a tick on your pet! You can do many things that will reduce that risk. And, by protecting your pet from ticks, also means protecting yourself from ticks.