Drat those ticks!
Here in southern Ontario, ticks are becoming more and more of a nuisance. Since the 1990s, ticks have gone from being found on the shores of Lake Erie to being found in a large portion of southern Ontario. We now have a high incidence of ticks in and around Toronto and part of this is due to the warmer temperatures that we are experiencing during the spring and summer seasons.
Ticks are fairly common external parasites that dogs, cats, outdoor pets and humans can get. The Blacklegged tick (or Deer tick) and the Western Blacklegged tick can carry Lyme disease, but those are not the only diseases that are transmissible by ticks. Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis are also carried by those two species as well as the other major tick species that can be found across Canada. A single tick has the potential to pass on multiple diseases. It is important to remember that humans can get Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever as well, which can potentially be very serious diseases.
Ticks feed by inserting their mouthparts into your pet’s skin and feeding on their blood. Some pet’s skin will become very red and irritated around the tick site, but some pets won’t even notice that they have a parasite attached to their skin. That’s why we recommend that you look over your pet thoroughly after you have been to an area that has a high prevalence of ticks, such as a woodsy area, to ensure your pet has not picked one up. Ticks need to be removed carefully to ensure that the mouthparts are removed as well – if they get left behind, they can become abscessed and cause your pet more discomfort . We also recommend putting dogs on K9 Advantix if they are spending time in tick-infested areas. K9 Advantix stops the tick BEFORE it bites your pet, killing all the major tick species as well as treating for fleas. It is a product that is for dogs only – cats can NOT be put on K9 Advantix.
Here at the Animal Hospital of High Park, we can also test for 3 major diseases that are commonly spread by ticks when we test your pet for heartworm. The Snap 4DX Heartworm test also screens for Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis.
If you’re not sure you’re taking your dog to an area that may have ticks, you can always get in touch with your veterinarian and they can let you know if your pet is at risk.