I think most of us would agree our pets are just as much a member of the family as our children are. It is important to us to keep them safe and healthy and we would do just about anything to make sure that they are feeling their best. This commitment really comes to the forefront during flea and tick season. Having dogs at a cottage comes with an increased risk. My dogs love running around and enjoying the freedom of spending summer days outside, however, like you I worry about what hides in the grass.
Ticks seem to be a universal worry for pet owners. Ticks can carry diseases which can be a great detriment to our beloved four-legged family members. According to petsandparasites.org, the most common diseases carried by ticks are Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. The most important thing to remember during tick season is prevention. There is no need to worry about your pet getting sick if you have taken preventative measures. Here are a few tips you can use this summer to help keep your pet healthy and happy:
Talk to your veterinarian. Your vet will be able to provide you with helpful resources, such as tick prevention treatments. You should ask your vet if your pet is eligible for the Lyme disease vaccine. They may also help ease your anxiety. As prevalent as many of us think Lyme disease spreading ticks are, only 2.32% of dogs tested for Lyme disease have tested positive thus far this year in the research provided by petsandparasites.org. Your vet can also provide you with the tools to help you spot a tick and safe removal. Beyond what information and tools your vet may provide you with, we highly recommend doing independent research. Monthly flea and tick treatments as well as pesticide treatments for your lawn are not the only way to protect your animals. We highly recommend looking into holistic options which can be used on a more regular basis. If you do find what you believe to be a tick on your pet, keep it in a closed container and take it to your vet. They can confirm whether or not it actually is a tick, and whether that tick is carrying a disease.
Be aware of your environment. Ticks live in grass. They cannot jump and do not live in trees. If you are taking your dog for walks in areas which are primarily grass-covered or have patches of tall grass, it is important to inspect your dog at the end of the walk. The map below shows areas of increased risk for Lyme disease carrying black-legged ticks. However, Public Health Ontario wants to remind you there is a low probability of finding ticks in any compatible environment
Know what you’re looking for. In Ontario, the main cause for concern is the black-legged tick which may also be referred to as a deer tick. The deer tick is very small, ranging from 3mm to 10mm depending on how well fed it is. They are dark brown in colour, yet this is also subject to change depending what stage of feeding they are in, and do not have any sort of distinct patterning on their back. All of the ticks in the image below from Health Canada are deer ticks in different stages. All carry the same risk to your pet.
It is also important to remember ticks can be dangerous to humans to. If you suspect your health is suffering due to a tick bite, it is important to see a healthcare provider as soon as possible. Following these tips should help keep your pet safe this summer. Now you are prepared to get out there and enjoy the beautiful Canadian outdoors.