Each year ticks seem to become more and more prevalent. This year at our Clinic we had a client bring in a tick from their pet in the winter. Ticks are not usually active unless it is 4 degrees Celsius or warmer outside so we were quite surprised as it was much colder than that when this tick was brought in. This was of course very rare but it reminds us that we should always be checking our pets to ensure they are healthy and parasite free! Those pets with long fur or thick coats should receive some extra time to check through their fur and make sure everything is looking good especially after spending time outdoors. What cat or dog doesn’t love a good pet or tummy rub? This is the perfect time to run your fingers through their fur to check and maybe run a brush through that luscious fur while you’re at it.
So what is a tick? Ticks are small parasites that bite onto their host (i.e. your cat, dog or even yourself) and feed on their blood. As the tick gorges itself on its new host its body becomes larger and more easily spotted with the naked eye. There are many different types of ticks and they may carry a variety of different diseases depending on the type of tick. They vary in colour and the patterns on their backs. Lyme disease is the most concerning for us in Alberta.
Where did my pet get a tick from and how do I get rid of it! Ticks are most commonly found in tall grassy areas or wooded areas. They are attracted to your pet’s warm body and they jump on your pet as it happily runs through the bushes.
Once at home you and your pup are cuddling on the couch and as you run your fingers through her fur you feel a bump. So you part the fur and to your horror, there is a tick attached to your pup! Ticks should be removed as soon after attachment as possible to reduce the chance of disease. Now don’t worry if you find a tick on your pet you can always bring your pet in for us to remove it or stop by to pick up a tick key.
A tick key is a small device used to remove the tick. It removes it so that the tick isn’t squeezed (as it may be if you used tweezers) and the head remains attached as you pull the tick out from your pet. You can use tweezers as long as you use even pressure and do not twist or turn as you pull it out. Once the tick is removed do not squish or throw it out! Place the tick in a small container with a small amount of tissue or a cotton ball that is moistened with water. Then drop the tick off at your veterinary office for submission to ensure that the tick is not a carrier or disease.
So how do we prevent ticks? We don’t want you and your pet to hide inside all spring and summer avoiding the grass and all that camping/hiking fun so instead pick up a tick prevention product from your Veterinarian. There are a few different products for tick prevention ranging from Chews for dogs and a liquid topical for your cats.
For further information on ticks and submitting them for testing within Alberta please click on the link below:
Written by Nicki Payne, RAHT