The Facts on Ticks
Ticks are disease carrying vectors that can infect our pets as well as us. Ticks find their hosts by detecting animals´ breath and body odors, or by sensing body heat, moisture, and vibrations. Some species can even recognize a shadow. In addition, ticks pick a place to wait by identifying well-used paths. Then they wait for a host, resting on the tips of grasses and shrubs. Ticks can't fly or jump, but many tick species wait in a position known as "questing".
In addition to Lyme disease, ticks also carry ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and others. There’s simply no way for pet owners to tell if a tick is carrying disease or not, and it only takes one tick bite to infect your dog. Also, some ticks are known to carry more than one of these diseases, which can lead to multiple infections, or co infection. Tick season runs from April to November and may first appear as soon as the temperature is above 7 degrees.
How Do Ticks Transfer Disease?
Ticks transmit pathogens that cause disease through the process of feeding.
-Ticks attach to your pet and insert their feeding tube via their mouth. . Many species also create a cement like substance that keeps them firmly attached
-A tick will suck the blood slowly for several days. If the host animal has a blood borne infection, the tick will ingest the pathogens with the blood.
-The tick will then need another blood meal and attach to another unsuspecting host. It will then transmit any blood borne disease it received from feeding on the initial infected host.
-A tick must be attached for at least 24 hours before transmitting disease.
Life Cycle of Ticks
Most ticks go through four life stages: egg, six-legged larva, eight-legged nymph, and adult. After hatching from the eggs, ticks must eat blood at every stage to survive. Ticks that require this many hosts can take up to 3 years to complete their full life cycle, and most will die because they don't find a host for their next feeding. Ticks can feed on mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Most ticks prefer to have a different host animal at each stage of their life, as shown below:
Types of Ticks
There are 4 different species of ticks that reside in Canada. The Brown Dog Tick, Western Black Legged Tick, American Dog Tick, and the Lone Star Tick. The most common tick in southern Ontario is the American Dog Tick and is considered a high risk where ever woodland exists. While ticks can carry many diseases, it is the Western Black Legged Tick that is responsible for transmitting Lyme.
What areas do I need to worry about?
One of the first things you can do to protect your dog is to learn about the ticks and diseases in your area. This way you’ll better understand the risks your dog is likely to encounter in his or her daily adventures. If your dog goes off leash in wooded areas or areas of tall grass, your pet is at risk. Ticks can be found along the river where you walk your dog, up at the cottage, or in your backyard. The following list is areas provided by Health Canada where ticks are endemic.
- Point Pelee
- Rondeau Provinical Park
- Turkey Point
- Long Point
- Wainfleet Bay / Welland
- Prince Edward Point
- Thousand Islands national Park
There are veterinary recommended products available to keep ticks off your dog. Some products are designed to prevent the tick from attaching to your pet and act as a repellent. Other products are designed to kill them once they have had a blood meal killing them upon ingestion of blood. We are here to help you make the most informed decision about your pet’s tick prevention. Please contact us to make a seasonal plan for your pet.
How To Perform A Tick Check
After an outing into high risk areas, it is important to check your pet for any ticks In high risk areas it is important to perform a tick check daily.
A proper tick check consists of the following
-Brush your fingers through their fur applying enough pressure to feel any small bumps.
-Be sure to check between your dog’s toes, behind ears, under armpits, and around the tail and head too.
-If you do feel a bump, pull the fur apart to see what’s there. A tick that has embedded itself in your dog will vary in size, something from the size of a pinhead to a grape depending on how long it’s been attached.
What If I Find a tick?
-Prompt removal of ticks from your pet’s skin will help prevent infection and transmission of many diseases.
-Do not squeeze the tick or put anything on the site. Call your veterinarian immediately to have the tick removed and identified.
-If your veterinarian is not accessible, us fine tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
-Pull upward with steady even pressure. Do not twist or jerk this can cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin. IF this happens remove the mouth parts with tweezers.
-If you find any ticks that have fallen off of your pet, keep the sample and bring in for identification.
-Identifying the tick is the key factor in identifying your pet’s risk of exposure to tick related diseases.