Tick Prevention Tips from Dr. Barrientos


Tick Facts

  • When the temperature climbs above 0 degrees Celsius, ticks become more active. Adult ticks are most likely to be found from March to May and September to December. Nymphs may be seen from April to November (or baby stages). This means that, depending on the temperature, virtually the entire year is a “tick season.”
  • I recommend keeping your dog on tick prevention medication from March to December.
  • Ticks are vectors for illnesses such as Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, and Ehrlichiosis.
  • Ticks like to hide in dark, damp areas of the body, such as the ears, eyelids, collar, armpits, groin, between the toes, and under the tail to evade discovery.
  • Tick saliva lessens the pain of the bite, allowing ticks to feed for days unnoticed. It also makes it easier for them to latch on.
  • Nymphs are baby ticks that are the size of poppy seeds. After feasting on blood, ticks can grow up to four times their regular size.

What are ticks?

Ticks are arachnids like scorpions, spiders, and mites. They are ectoparasites (organisms that live on an animal’s exterior) that suck blood from their hosts and can carry and spread lethal illnesses.

 

 

What diseases do ticks spread?

Ticks may transmit a variety of diseases, many of which can have serious long-term repercussions (and in some cases, fatal consequences). That’s why it’s important to avoid tick-borne diseases and take your pet to the vet as soon as you notice any signs of illness, before the health problems get worse.

Lyme disease is the most prevalent tick-borne illness. The bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi causes this disease, which is spread through the bites of infected black-legged ticks.

Early symptoms of Lyme disease include fatigue, fever, headaches, and rashes. If left untreated, it harms the joints, neurological system, and heart.

Tularemia and Rocky Mountain spotted fever are both carried by American dog ticks.

The symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever range from headaches and muscle pains to vomiting and rashes. The disorder can cause blood vessels to leak or clog, resulting in brain, heart, or lung inflammation. This tick-borne disease has the potential to kill.

Tularemia is a highly infectious bacterial infection that produces fever, weight loss, and ulceration at the infection site. In severe cases, the condition might be fatal.

Encephalitis is another tick-borne disease. While most infections generate only mild sickness, fatalities are possible. The virus causes inflammation of the brain, flu-like symptoms, and seizures.

Another tick-borne illness caused by lone star ticks is Ehrlichia. It might induce respiratory and renal failure if left untreated.

Even though many of the viruses that cause tick-borne diseases are zoonotic and can spread to humans, you can’t get sick directly from your dog.

 

What kinds of ticks exist?

Ticks are divided into two main categories: hard ticks and soft ticks. Both species are common across North America, with hard ticks being more common in Canada.

There are approximately 850 species of ticks recorded worldwide. While some species cannot survive and reproduce inside, others, such as brown dog ticks, can. The black-legged tick, brown dog tick, American dog tick, and Rocky Mountain wood tick are all widespread tick species found throughout Canada.

Where do ticks hide?

The majority of tick species in Canada dwell in a variety of habitats, from thickly forested regions and forests to grasslands. As I indicated in my previous blog entry “Ticks Are Here!“, we have found ticks on dogs playing in Trinity Bellwoods, High Park, and a number of other downtown Toronto parks.

Ticks used to be mostly found in the southern United States and in South America, but they are now showing up more and more in cooler places like Canada.

Some tick species, notably the brown dog tick, may dwell in homes. They don’t bite people and don’t spread Lyme disease, but they have been known to cause huge infestations in homes. These ticks have also been linked to Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

 

What is the life cycle of a tick?

The life cycle of a tick is similar to that of other arthropods, with metamorphosis beginning with the egg stage and going through larval, nymphal, and adult phases. It requires blood at every step of its life cycle. The eggs normally hatch into larvae with six legs after four to ten days.

A female can lay hundreds of eggs before dying. After hatching, larvae must fend for themselves in search of a little blood meal. Nymphs have eight legs and resemble small adults.

An adult tick has a life span of one to three years, which is often connected with the availability of food throughout maturity.

Tick Season

Tick nymphs are most active in the spring and summer, whereas adults are most active in late autumn. Most of the time, they live in wooded areas with a lot of shade or in places with a lot of tall grass.

Ticks become active in the spring when the temperature rises above 4 degrees Celsius, but it is never too early to begin tick prevention! When the weather starts to warm up, outdoor pets should be treated with a tick preventative.

 

How do ticks infect dogs?

Ticks frequently infect dogs while they are outside, rushing through the woods or tall grass, and the ticks are hanging on low shrubs or grass, usually 18 to 24 inches from the ground.

They sit on the tip of a long blade of grass, waiting for a passing host. When you, your dog, or any other warm-blooded animal passes by, they grab hold and begin searching for the ideal place to sink their fangs.

Ticks just wait for their prey, much like an ambush. They may even go up to a year without eating, waiting for the proper animal to pass by.

Check your dogs for ticks on a regular basis as the weather heats up, especially if you take them into the woods or on trails. Ticks prefer to stay near the head, neck, feet, and ears, so pay close attention to these areas.

 

How can we keep ticks at bay?

On Pets.

There are numerous strategies you may employ to assist your pets in avoiding these parasites. Treating your dog with a topical preventive is the first step in preventing tick bites and illness. These drugs stay in the skin and kill ticks within 5 minutes of contact, before the tick may bite.

Oral tick repellents are also available.

Another method for avoiding illness is to test for exposure on a yearly basis. This is accomplished through the use of a 4DX blood test. Because Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses are often silent infections, this 4DX blood test is the only way to make sure that your dog doesn’t get sick and get worse before it can be treated.

In addition to this bloodwork, if you find a tick on your dog, get it tested to see if it is a disease-carrying tick.

Finally, your canine can be immunised against Lyme disease. Though it is not a vaccination I would recommend for every dog, it is good to have your dog vaccinated for Lyme disease if they spend any time outside in well-known tick-hot regions.

It provides an additional layer of protection against Lyme disease if your pet is bitten by a tick or if you neglect to give your pet prophylactic medicine.

In Our Homes.

The easiest strategy to manage tick infestations in our yards is to use proper landscaping techniques to create an unfavourable habitat for tick survival. Maintaining the grass trimmed, removing all leaves and weeds, pruning tree limbs, and restricting your pet’s movement may help keep ticks at bay.

Insecticides that can kill a lot of ticks are available at local hardware stores or retail companies that offer them.

Because ticks may spread potentially dangerous infections and viruses, anybody visiting tick-infested areas should dress appropriately, keep shirts buttoned and tucked into pants, and wear suitable footwear. You may also be able to purchase repellents for both your skin and your clothing. When a pest problem becomes severe enough, homeowners or business owners may choose to consult with a specialist who understands how to get rid of ticks.

 

What should I do if a tick is discovered on my dog?

Ticks on your dog should be removed as soon as possible, and you should consult with your veterinarian.

  • Use fine-tipped tweezers and disposable gloves to remove the tick. If you must use your fingers and do not have gloves, protect yourself with a tissue or paper towel. Pathogens can enter the body through mucous membranes or skin breaches after coming into contact with infected ticks.
  • Take hold of the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. This reduces the possibility of the head being separated from the body during removal.
  • Pull the tick out with even, sustained pressure. Continue to apply constant pressure even if the tick does not immediately release. After a minute or two of steady, slow tugging, the tick may release.
  • Tick Twisters and Tick Keys are two other devices that may be useful. However, when using them, use caution because twisting or jerking the tick may cause the mouth parts to break off and remain in the skin, increasing the risk of infection.
  • After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Do not try home cures such as applying petroleum jelly or grease to the tick’s back or rubbing it with a hot match. These don’t work and just make the tick salivate, which makes it more likely to get sick.
  • Talk to your vet as soon as possible if you don’t feel comfortable removing a tick, if you can’t remove it because it’s too deep in the skin, if you see signs of Lyme disease, or if you’re worried about getting bitten.

 

Conclusion

Remember that tick exposure is most dangerous in wooded, bushy areas where tick populations are entrenched. When ticks latch on to your pet to feed on their blood, they may spread dangerous diseases such as Lyme disease. Furthermore, the best defence against these hazardous parasites is proper parasite prevention.

 

If you have more questions about ticks or want to talk about how to keep your pet free of parasites, please call us at (416) 966-1830 to make an appointment or click the button below.

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