With nice weather and longer walks in your neighbourhood ….even in urban Etobicoke……you may bring home something unexpected……Ticks! Experts predict that tick populations will increase dramatically in many areas of Southern Ontario this year.
RYAH has noted increase in the local tick population over the last few years. This can be partially due to warmer than average winter temperatures. Other contributing factors like migratory birds, rodents, coyotes and other wildlife are vectors (carriers) for ticks.
Ticks are more than an annoyance as they present a serious health risk to both you and your pet!
Tick borne diseases can be difficult to diagnose and treat so PREVENTION and quick removal is the best treatment.
Tick prevention using topical treatments are available by prescription at most veterinary hospitals. Pet store products are not very effective.
You should check your dog for ticks every time you come back from the park or a wooded area…..or even your back yard. The best way to do this is just to run your hands over the entire body. Ticks attach most frequently to the head, ears, neck and feet but can be found anywhere on the pet.
What do they look like? Ticks are most often described to us as a brown or dark grey “skin tag” or small “growth”. When they have been attached for longer they are blood engorged so can be considerably larger than this.
If you find one don’t squeeze it. If you do the tick might inject disease causing organisms such as bacteria, viruses, protozoa or other agents into the dog.
Many other methods you have heard of also DO NOT WORK: Apply alcohol, petroleum jelly, using the hot tip of a match…….we have heard them all!
Ticks need to be removed by pulling off directly without and turning or twisting. We use a special tool to do this and it is usually just best to have us remove it. However, it is possible to do this at home with by applying steady pressure but you need to be careful and to wear gloves. After the tick has been removed it is important to ensure that all parts of the tick have been removed and if not or if the area is red and/or inflamed then veterinary assistance is required.
Lyme disease is the disease most people associate with ticks but there are several others such as Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
Toronto had over 100 positive Lyme cases in 2012. RYAH has had several positive cases already this year. We are recommending the test HW4DX this spring for all dogs which tests for Heartworm disease but also Tick borne disease exposure. Prevention is the key. After a negative test your dog should be treated with once a month topical protection (Revolution) starting now until late fall.