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IT'S "TICK SEASON" AGAIN! - by Lexy Marcellus, (RVT) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Adam   
Friday, 04 May 2012 05:25

It’s that time of year again! Thanks to our mild winter and the beautiful start to spring temperatures, ticks as well as other pesky insects are upon us.  Ticks are usually seen when the temperature is between 4-to-22⁰C and generally between April-thru-June and at the end of August-thru-November.  The tick population is increasing in our area too.  In the last few years, they weren’t much of a worry, but veterinary clinics have seen an increase in occurrences.

The tick 'lifecycle'

Ticks have four distinct life stages: Egg, six-legged larva, eight-legged nymph and adult. First the female adult tick finds a host animal (dog, cat, wild animals etc.) to feed on, then mates. Once the engorged female is ready, she will fall off the host and lay approximately 3,000-6,000 eggs at one time. From there the eggs hatch to larvae, and THEY search for a host as well to feed off of.  The larvae develop into the larger nymph. The nymph feeds on a host and then molts into a larger adult, ready to begin the cycle all over again.

How do dogs pick up ticks?

Ticks wait for host animals from the tips of grasses and shrubs.  Once they brush by, they quickly let go of the vegetation and climb onto them. Ticks can only crawl; they are not able to fly or jump.

There are at least 15 species of ticks in North America!  (Thankfully, only a few of them will ever come into contact with our dogs here in Ontario)

Here are some of the more (UGH) 'Popular' ones:

American dog tick: Attacks a wide variety of hosts, including humans and dogs, but rarely infests homes.  They're attracted by the scent of animals, and humans encounter them near roads, paths, trails and recreational areas. Although present year-round, they're most numerous in Spring.

Lone star tick: Named after the female’s distinct single silvery-white spot on its back, this tick will also bite dogs and humans like its American cousin. They live in wooded/brushy areas, and are most numerous in underbrush along creeks and river bottoms, & near animal resting places. Most often seen from March to May, and in July & August.

Deer (Blacklegged) tick:  All 3 stages of this tick will feed on a variety of hosts. Usually found in wooded areas along trails, the deer tick can transmit Lyme disease and possibly erlichiosis to dogs and humans!

Brown dog tick: This tick feeds on dogs, but rarely humans. Unlike other species, its lifecycle allows it to survive and develop indoors.  Found primarily in kennels or homes with dogs, it hides in cracks, behind furniture, under rugs and on walls or draperies. It enjoys tropical weather and cannot handle long, cold winters outdoors.

How can ticks be prevented?

Prevention in the form of a topical medication can be applied to your dog(s) once a month, to kill any ticks that may land on them. A vaccine is now available for protecting dogs against Lyme disease.  This vaccine is initially given twice, at a two-to-three-week interval.  Annual re-vaccination is also necessary to maintain immunity.

What should I do if I find a tick on me or my dog?

Use blunt tweezers or disposable gloves to handle the tick (infectious agents can be transmitted through mucous membranes or breaks in the skin). Remember: diseases that infect dogs, can also infect US!

1. Grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible. This reduces the possibility of the head detaching from the body upon removal.

2. Pull the tick out straight out with a steady, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick as this may cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin, increasing the chances of infection.  Continue to apply steady pressure even if the tick does not release immediately. It may take a minute or two of constant, slow pulling to cause the tick to release.

3. After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite area and wash your hands with soap and water.  After removing it, preserve it in rubbing alcohol and bring it to your vet, for testing.  Always consult your veterinary team for the best preventative medication and recommendations to keep you and your dog healthy & TICK-FREE! heart Lexy

Last Updated on Saturday, 05 May 2012 05:47

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