Ticks may be tiny, but they can pose huge problems for both you and your pet if they get a chance to bite. Don't be scared though. There's plenty of ways to help protect your pets. Here are eight things pet owners need to know about ticks and how to prevent the spread of harmful diseases, presented in partnership with Bayer and the No Bite Is Right campaign
Parasitic pests have a pesky bite
Ticks are eight-legged parasites with highly developed mouthparts that pierce through the skin of a pet and feed on its blood. Ticks can transfer both bacteria and viruses as they feed and can continue to do so for up to 12 days.
There are many harmful species of ticks
There are roughly 40 species of ticks living in Canada and the breeds that carry Lyme and other debilitating diseases are becoming more prevalent. The Deer Tick, for example, is common across the country and is a carrier of Lyme disease -- a condition that can cause fever, lethargy, kidney damage, and inflammation of the joints, among other symptoms.
It’s a rising concern in Canada
Climate change has allowed animals like deer and birds (carrier species) to travel to more parts of the country throughout the year. Because of these changes in migratory patterns, ticks have become a rising concern in Canada. Studies by the Government of Canada have even shown that the number of Lyme disease cases in people had risen to 917 in 2015 from 144 just six years earlier. Ticks have been found in B.C., Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.
They hide in vegetation and latch onto your pet’s fur
Ticks can often be found on blades of grass, in leaf litter or in shrubs. They will wait in vegetation for a pet to brush past so they can catch a ride by latching onto the animal’s fur. The tick will then make its way through the fur to find a suitable place to feast. Ticks may be found anywhere on a pet’s body, so be sure to check for signs of bites often (daily is best). Common places where ticks may be missed by pet owners include between the toes, around the ears and armpits.
Remove ticks using tweezers
If you find a tick attached to your animal's body, chances are they're going to want to stick around for a while. They even secrete a cement-like substance to glue themselves into place. A safe way to remove a visible tick is to find a pair of tweezers, get close to the surface of the skin, and pull firmly straight upwards. Do not handle the tick with bare hands as you risk being exposed to bacteria. Once removed, place the tick in a sealed container for your vet to identify.
Speedy spreaders – ticks can transmit debilitating disease in as little as three hours
Although it’s generally believed that ticks transmit Lyme disease in 24 hours, research suggests that transmission can actually happen in less than 16 hours. Other harmful bacteria such as Ehrlichia can be transmitted in as little as three hours.
Most treatments require a tick bite to work… but not all
There are many veterinary-approved treatments available to kill ticks. Oral-drug treatment options are often administered as a tasty treat or tablet, but these products require pests to attach and feed on your dog for up to 48 hours to actually work. The pests need to absorb enough of the insecticide from the dog’s bloodstream. If you are concerned about tick-borne diseases and reducing tick biting on the outset, you may want to consider other options.
Non-systemic topical treatments work through contact and don’t require a bite
Non-systemic treatments are applied directly to the skin as a proactive measure. The active ingredients spread on your dog’s skin and lock into the natural oils of the skin and your pet’s fur. These products work through contact to create a “hot-foot effect”. This means that when the tick latches onto your animal’s coat it becomes uncoordinated, leaves the pet and dies without them needing to bite, so the chance of disease transmission is far less!
The “No Bite is Right" campaign reminds us that it’s sometimes better to be ahead of the curve when it comes to your animal’s health. Products are available that can work to kill ticks through contact, no biting required. Ticks that don’t bite, can’t transmit diseases. Talk to your vet to decide on a treatment plan that works best for you.