With our mild winters and early jump into Spring, we’re already seeing signs of ticks. Did you know that ticks start to appear as soon as the weather hits 4° Celsius? In the Comox Valley, this means ticks can be a pest pretty much all year round. Veterinary practices all across the nation have seen an increase in ticks on pets in recent years. Tick-borne diseases are also on the rise, which is something we should be talking about. Although we are considered a lower risk area compared to parts of eastern Canada, Vancouver Island is currently identified as a risk area for Lyme disease on the Canadian Government Health Services website.
By treating our pets for ticks, we decrease the number of ticks in our environment which helps reduce the risk to our pets and to us. People are at risk from the same tick-borne diseases as our pets. The most common canine tick-borne disease seen in North America is Lyme disease. Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Anaplasmosis and Babesiosis are also common. On Vancouver Island, the most commonly found tick is the Western Blacklegged Tick.
The best course of protection against a tick-borne disease is prevention! Keeping your pet on a year-long tick and parasite control is the best defence. There are several options available to you from your family veterinarian with a choice of topical, oral and longer lasting applications.
How You Can Protect your Pet
- Keep your pets on a regular tick and parasite control program.
- Avoid walking through tall, grassy areas or deer and other wildlife trails.
- Check your pets regularly for signs of ticks.
- All year protection is key for prevention of a tick-borne disease. Conditions are often ideal for ticks, even during our winter months.
- Remove ticks immediately if found. Ticks need to feed for 24 – 48 hrs before they transmit Lyme disease. The less time they have on your pet, the less risk of transmission. This is why veterinary tick prevention products work so well; they kill ticks quickly after contact.
- Wash the area well with antibacterial soap to avoid a skin infection.
- Always talk to your veterinarian prior to travel to determine if you will be entering a high-risk area with your pet and start treating well before the risk of exposure.
Symptoms of a tick-borne disease may include:
- Tiredness and lethargy
- Muscle/joint pain
- Decreased appetite
Written by Van Isle Veterinary Hospital