- Ticks are active in all seasons!
Unlike American dog ticks, Blacklegged ticks (also called Deer ticks) are more active in the fall, as the temperatures cool down. And here’s an interesting fact: ticks don’t die when the temperature goes below freezing. Instead, they go dormant, and emerge from this “rest phase” whenever the temperature rises above four degrees Celsius. As there are many sunny areas protected from the wind, this can happen regularly in the London area anytime between fall and spring. And that makes our pets vulnerable to ticks virtually year-round.
- Ticks transmit disease.
Different ticks spread different infections. The most known is Lyme disease but other concerning infections include Ehrlichia, Babesia, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Each infection requires a certain amount of tick attachment time for the bacteria to be transmitted to the pet:
- Lyme: 24-72 hours
- Ehrlichia: within 24 hours
- Babesia: 8-24 hours
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: 5-20 hours
Ticks can also release neurotoxins that can cause a rare progressive paralysis.
- London and the surrounding areas are considered high-risk areas for Lyme disease.
This means that you and your pets are likely to encounter a tick that is capable of transmitting Lyme disease.
- Ticks, especially Deer ticks are really, really small
The younger tick lifestage, called a nymph, is even smaller still. And don’t let their size fool you: nymphs may be as small as a poppy seed but they can still transmit Lyme disease just like the adults. Unfed adult Blacklegged or Deer ticks are about the size of a sesame seed while adult American dog ticks are slightly larger, but all can balloon to about the size of a small grape after feeding.
- Ticks should be removed as soon as possible.
The longer a tick is attached, the higher the risk of infection.
- The best way to remove a tick is to grasp it close to your dog’s skin with tweezers or other tick removal device, and gently pull it out. By doing this you are more likely to remove the head and mouthparts of the tick from the skin.
- Do not squeeze the body of the tick – this may result in early transmission of bacteria into your dog’s bloodstream.
- Place the removed tick in a sealed jar with alcohol or flea-and-tick spray to kill it.
- Clean the area well with soap and water to disinfect it. Wash your hands well when finished.
- When ticks bite, they bite.
Ticks release chemicals from their saliva that harden into a “cement” and glue their mouth parts to the skin. This makes them difficult to completely remove. With complete removal, you will often see bits of skin attached to their mouthparts. If the head is accidentally left in the skin, do not try to remove it. Your dog’s own immune system will often wall it off and destroy it over time. In rare cases, the area can become infected, so check your pet daily for swelling or discharge; this will help catch infection early. The area can also be cleaned daily with a disinfectant soap. Talk to our veterinary team for recommendations.
- Yard design and upkeep can reduce exposure to ticks.
Remove any brush and trim grass short around your house. Create a three-foot-wide mulch, wood chip, or gravel barrier between your lawn and any wooded area to reduce ticks in your lawn. Stack any piles of wood away from where your dog plays. Mow lawns frequently and keep the leaves raked. Plants like rosemary, chrysanthemums, mint, sage, lavender. and marigold can help repel ticks and/or the animals that can carry them.
- Ticks don’t fly or jump.
Ticks are strategic when it comes to finding a bloodmeal. They can detect a host by their breath, odour, heat and vibrations caused by movement. Ticks often wait on blades of grass or brush, with their first pair of legs outstretched, for an unsuspecting animal to pass nearby. When an animal brushes past them, the tick latches on, climbs aboard, and finds a place on the animal to hide.
- Cats can get ticks too!
Outdoor cats are at just as much risk for ticks and the diseases they carry as dogs are, but even indoor cats can be exposed to ticks if they come in on our clothing or the family dog. Ticks can be removed from a cat’s skin using the method described above. Do not use any “treatment” on your cat without talking to us. Because of differences in metabolism, cats are very sensitive, and some products that are harmless for dogs or humans can be toxic to them.
- Ticks are easily preventable.
There are many different well-studied medications and treatments that are very effective at repelling and killing ticks. Talk to our veterinary team about what product is best for your pet.