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Monday, June 6, 2022

What You Need to Know About Ticks on Your Dog in Ontario

Ticks might look small and innocuous, but they can pass on diseases to your dog. And ticks can be transmitted to you when you pet your dog. If you notice your dog has ticks, it's crucial to act quickly. You can help your dog by regularly brushing the hair and examining the skin for small ticks. 


To safeguard your dog from falling victim to any tick-borne disease:


  • Be mindful of where your dog is while walking in grassy and shrubbed areas.

  • Develop the habit of routinely checking your dog thoroughly for ticks at the end of every day.

  • Consult a veterinarian on pet medication options to help prevent ticks. 

 

Regular veterinarian-approved medication to control ticks is essential if your dog goes into tick habitats.

Tick medications don't repel ticks but are instead designed to kill ticks. Dog owners should continue checking for ticks on their dogs daily, even when their dogs are taking tick medicine.


What time of year are ticks most prevalent?


Ticks are most active in humid and warm weather, thriving during the spring and summer and reemerging in the fall. The peak months are April and October. They can be found anywhere in Ontario if the temperature is above freezing. 


 

What to do if you find a tick on your dog


Use fine-tipped tweezers to remove the tick by carefully grasping the tick as close as possible to the skin. Slowly and steadily pull the tick upward and away from your dog's skin. With a steady hand, pull gently upward  until the skin the tick is attached to starts to tent, then wait for several seconds. At this point, the tick will usually release the skin. 


You want to refrain from pulling too aggressively or fast, which risks crushing the tick's body. Also, avoid twisting the tweezers or squeezing the tick’s belly or body. This is because if any of the tick’s gut contents enter the area the tick was latched on to, it will increase the chances of disease transmission. 


After removing the tick, kill it by submerging it in a small container of alcohol before placing it in a plastic bag and discarding it into the waste. Take a picture to document what type of tick you removed in case your dog develops symptoms. Since there are different species of ticks and tick-borne diseases, to avoid the risk of transmission, never crush a tick. The vast majority of tick bites occur without the transmission of any tick-borne illness, however, after tick removal, monitor your dog for any of the following symptoms:


  • Loss of appetite

  • Fatigue (reluctance to move)

  • Pale gums

  • Depression

  • Seizures

  • Swelling and soreness in limbs

  • Any other symptoms can occur


How long does a tick have to be attached before it will transmit a disease?


 

A tick has to be attached for a significant amount of time before a disease can be transmitted. However, it’s hard to narrow down the time period. In some studies, diseases have been spread in less than 24 hours, but most of the time it takes longer. Checking your pet for ticks every 24 hours is a good way to significantly reduce your dog’s risk of getting a tick-borne illness. 



How long does it take Lyme disease or a tick-borne infection to manifest after finding a tick on your dog?



The time varies depending on the disease or infection. Once the tick is embedded into the skin after an extended period, the disease is transmitted. It enters the bloodstream, affecting different body organs. Only 5-10% of infected dogs develop clinical signs of Lyme disease. Signs usually develop within 2-5 months of infection.



How does Lyme disease affect your dog?

If left untreated, Lyme disease could progress into serious complications, leading to kidney failure. Your veterinarian can prescribe medication to help ease discomfort and resolve symptoms.


If Lyme disease is transmitted, your dog could experience: 


  • Kidney disease

  • Soreness in the limbs

  • Extreme fatigue

  • Loss of appetite

  • Fever


Other diseases and infections ticks can spread to your dog include:


  • Anaplasmosis: fever, muscle aches, and other uncomfortable symptoms, including lethargy and loss of appetite Babesiosis: anemia, pale gums, weakness, fever, body aches, loss of appetite, bruising, jaundice

  • Tick Paralysis: heavy breathing, difficulty breathing, loss of muscle function

  • Ehrlichiosis: weight loss, fever, swollen lymph nodes


How To Tick-proof Your Yard


Regularly mow your lawn, and use a weed wacker in hard-to-reach areas or against fencing to trim long grass. 


If you frequently take your dog on hikes, check for ticks around the neck and ears, and do a full-body examination post-hike. Humans can also contract tick-borne diseases. Always check your body, especially underarms, behind knees, and around your wrists, after leaving an area with dense grass or shrubs. 


It’s very important that you schedule an online telehealth appointment with a Vetster veterinarian to formulate the best and most effective plan to prevent flea and tick infestation.

 


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