Well, it is that time of year again! As the weather warms up and our beautiful greenery returns, so will the fleas and ticks. Here are some important points about ticks and how to protect yourself and your pet.
- Dogs and cats (and humans) generally contract ticks when they brush up against tall grass or shrubs where the ticks are waiting. The ticks then crawl onto the pet and attach to feed off of blood. Ticks cannot jump. They are dormant in the winter a
- nd become active in the spring once the ground temperature is greater than about 4C. Ticks are most prevalent in wooded areas, both in rural and urban environments.The most common sites to find ticks on your dog are by the ears, between the toes, in the armpits and on the head and neck. But it is important to examine everywhere on your dog after they have been i
- n an area where they could be exposed to ticks.To remove a tick, gently grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible with tweezers. Using gentle, slow pressure, pull the tick away from the skin. Try not to crush the tick when removing it. Wear gloves to remove and wash hands well afterward. Once the tick is removed, you can place it in a small sealed container and bring it in to the clinic for submission.
- Tick populations are monitored in Alberta through voluntary submissions. This means that if you find a tick on yourself or your pet, you can bring it into the clinic and we will submit it to Alberta Health. This way, the numbers and species of ticks in Alberta can be tracked.
- In 2016, 2700 ticks were submitted through this program. Of those found in Alberta, approximately 10% were the species that carry Lyme disease. Although Lyme disease is still relatively uncommon in Alberta, other areas in Canada are higher risk including British Columbia (Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland, Sunshine Coast, Southern Interior), Manitoba, Southern Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes.
- Ticks can spread other diseases as well such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichia and Tularemia. Some of these illnesses affect humans while others can affect dogs and cats.
- Tick preventive medications are available through a veterinarian. These medications kill ticks once they attach and begin to feed on pets. These medications kill ticks very quickly (generally less that 8-12hrs) and the ticks will not be attached long enough to transmit diseases.
What about fleas?
- Dogs generally contract fleas through contact with infected dogs or environments frequented by coyotes, foxes and gophers. Cats often contract fleas through the animals that they hunt, such as mice and gophers. Dogs and cats can spread fleas to each other as well.
- Fleas are very mobile and can jump between animals. They are about 2-3mm long and are black with red legs.
- Many dogs and cats that are infested with fleas are quite itchy, especially as the populations multiply on the animal. Some pets have an allergy to flea bites and can become very intensely itchy even if infected with only a few fleas.
- Animals in high risk situations should be treated monthly with a flea preventive medication. Many monthly products cover for both fleas and ticks.
We routinely recommend tick and flea preventive medications to our patients that are in moderate to high risk situations. Please discuss your pet’s needs with one of our staff members.