Ticks are troublesome parasites that can cause a variety of problems for your pet. They can live for two years and only feed three times, requiring a blood meal to progress to each successive stage in their life cycle. Various species of ticks are emerging in Canada, threatening you and your pet’s health.
Keep in mind, when travelling in Canada or abroad, your pet may encounter different species of ticks. Some ticks that we see in Canada include American Dog Tick, Brown Dog Tick, Blacklegged Tick. The Lone Star Tick and Gulf Coast Tick are the new ticks in town. Tick-borne diseases include Lyme disease, Alpha-gal allergy, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Relapsing Fever, Colorado Tick Fever, Tularemia, Tick Paralysis, Anaplasmosis and Hepatozoonosis.
Ticks don’t jump, fly or drop from trees. They live in grassy, bushy areas and crawl up their host and try to attach to the head or ears. Deer ticks are often in leaf litter, especially along trails. Spotting these parasites in your pet’s fur isn’t always easy. Some species of deer and immature forms of ticks are no bigger than a grain of sand. A deer tick is about the size of a sesame seed. To help find a tick, feel for lumps or bumps and look for areas that appear irritated. Regularly check your pet for ticks after all outdoor playtime and walks, even if your pet is on a tick preventative.
Ticks are drawn to dark, moist areas of the body like:
- under the collar
- under the tail and around the anal area
- inside the groyne area
- eyelid area and inside ears
- between the toes
- under the front legs
- elbow area
- Part your dog’s hair around the tick with your fingers
- Place the tweezers around the tick, as close as you can, try to get to the skin
- Don’t twist or jerk the tick
- Pull gently upwards with steady hands, adding pressure until the tick lets you pick it away from the skin
- Clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, iodine or soap and water
- Dispose of the tick by killing it in alcohol or flush it down the toilet
- If you’re concerned your dog may have contracted a tick disease, save the tick in alcohol
- Remove ticks with your fingers. If you do use your fingers, it’s best to protect them with a tissue or paper towel, and disinfect your hands afterwards (as well as the bite area on your
dog). You don’t want tick saliva or blood on your fingers as it may contain pathogens.
- Squish or crush a tick. This can force infected body fluids through the tick’s mouth and increase the risk of infection for you and your dog.
- Worry if the mouth part of the tick stays in your dog’s skin. It can sometimes happen when they’re well embedded. It’s a bit like having a splinter that will fall out in a few days.
- Put substances like nail polish, vaseline or repellents on the tick to try to suffocate or kill it while it’s on your dog. This can cause the tick to vomit into your dog, increasing the possibility of infection.
- Burn the tick with a lighted cigarette or hot match as these things can also cause vomiting.
- Dispose of the tick in your trash can or sink as they can easily crawl back out.
Remember: Ticks DO NOT bury themselves entirely into the skin. They only attach and bury their mouthparts into the surface.
To remove a tick with tweezers or a tick removal gadget:
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Depending on your lifestyle, there are a variety of tick prevention medications available to help protect your pet. Please call us at 204-269- 8162 to discuss all of the options or visit us at 2747 Pembina Highway.
Written by Diane Skillen, Practice Manager