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  • Writer's pictureLisa Charity

Ick! Ticks!

Do you and/or you dog love to go on walks through fields and wooden areas? Do you have long grass, migratory birds or deer visiting in your yard? Then you, your family and/or dog(s) could be at risk of being bitten by by various types of ticks. Some ticks that we would need to be concerned about in our area of Canada would be: Dermacentor variabilis (American Dog Tick), Ixodes scapularis (Black Legged Tick), and Ripicephalus sanguineus (The Brown Dog Tick).

Ticks are often found in the tall grasses and brush once temperatures reach above 4 degrees Celcius, patiently awaiting a chance to launch themselves on a host to obtain a blood meal. Who is the host? You, your dog, deer and/or migratory birds to name just a few. Ticks have 8 legs and have separate head and body sections that are covered by a hard protective shell. This makes them hard to remove since they bury their heads into the skin when getting a blood meal. Why is this a concern for you and your dogs? Ticks are vectors for multiple diseases that can affect you and your dog. These include lyme disease, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and ehrlichiosis.

How can can you protect yourself and your pet? Ensuring that your dog is up to date with a tick preventative is one of the best methods, but many medications require the tick to actually bite the dog before the medication can kill the tick although there are some available that deter the ticks from biting. Please talk to your veterinarian for the best choice for your dog. Other methods to lower the chance of you and your dog from getting bit by ticks include: keeping your grass cut short, examine yourself and your dog nightly (especially after trips in the forest or in fields), keep potential sources of ticks away from your house such as wood piles and bird feeders.

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If you find a tick on your dog or yourself, you can remove it with a pair of tweezers by grasping the head and pulling the tick straight out of the skin, be sure that you get it out with the head. If you are unable to remove the tick from your dog yourself, stop by your pet’s clinic and they should be happy to remove it for you. They can also give you a useful little tool called a Tick Twister that aids by getting under the body and allows you to rotate and pop the tick off. If you remove a tick and are unsure of how long it has been attached to your dog, you can bring it into your dog’s clinic and they would be glad to perform a blood test to clear your dog of any tick borne disease.

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