Tick control is becoming an increasingly important aspect of pet health. Ticks can be carriers of a number of infectious disease, and their geographical "hot spots" in Ontario are expanding.Tick control measures include avoidance of risk areas, cutting down tall grasses, and doing daily checks.
The tick is a blood sucking parasite which spends most of its lifecycle in the environment. Ticks may travel on a pet seeking out a suitable feeding spot this may take several minutes or even several days. Once attached, blood feeding occurs 24 to 36 hours later. Ticks become engorged once fed and it is during the feeding cycle that diseases such as Lyme disease are transmitted. Newer tick control products can kill the tick so quickly they are not able to feed, and hence transmit lyme disease.
There are various species of ticks. The Dermacentor sp. ticks (American Dog tick and Rocky Mountain Wood Tick) are the most common in Canada. The Rhipicephalus sp (Brown dog tick) prefer dogs, but can feed on humans occasionally. They are often found, even in winter, on dogs especially in heated buildings. Ehrilchia and Babesia canis can be transmitted by this species.
The Deer Tick (Ixodes sp.) is the main vector for LYME disease. Ixodes species can be found in the Long Point areas (Point Pelee National Park, Rondeau Provincial park, Turkey Point, Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area) and the St Lawrence Islands National Park, in the Thousand Island region. This species is also the vector with Anaplasma and has also been associated with tick paralysis.
We seem to be seeing more ticks recently in our area, and although we do have a positive case, we believe it was potentially infected while travelling outside the area.
Lyme Disease is a tick borne disease actually caused by a spirochete, Borrelia Burgdorferi. In dogs only 5-10% of those exposed will go on to develop clinical disease. This contrasts the disease in people, where 90% will develop disease. Dogs may present with signs of lameness, fever, lethargy or enlarged lymph nodes 2-5 months after transmission. Again, it is currently believed that the tick must fed for 48 hours or more to efficiently transmit Borrelia to the host in most cases.
DID YOU KNOW??? The current recommended annual blood testing for heartworm each spring is now also routinely screening for tick borne diseases such as Ehrlichia, Anaplasmosis, and Lyme disease at no additional charge at Gorham Animal Hospital.
To protect your family, avoid high risk areas, remove tall grasses and leaves, do daily tick checks and consider using a tick preventative. The season for ticks is actually longer than the heartworm season, so current recommendation would be to start tick prevention when the environment is over 4 degrees.
Please call the clinic if you have any further questions regarding lyme disease or other tick borne diseases.