As the Spring weather gets warmer, more and more people are enjoying walks and hikes with their pets. But BC SPCA senior manager of animal health, Dr. Emilia Gordon, cautions pet guardians that there may be some pesky parasites, such as ticks and fleas, lurking outdoors this time of year.
“While not all ticks carry lyme disease, if you think your dog has picked up a tick, contacting your vet is highly recommended as there are also other tick-borne diseases,” she says. “The tick should be removed as soon as possible to reduce the chance of disease transmission. Ask your vet about safe methods and any necessary follow-up.”
Ticks are external parasites that feed off the blood of unlucky hosts, including humans, dogs and cats. Tick bites and tickborne diseases, such as Lyme disease, can be hard to detect; signs of tickborne disease may not appear for seven to 21 days or longer after a tick bite, notes Gordon.
Gordon also cautions that old-school methods like burning the tick out or attempting to suffocate it with oil should never be used.
“Watch your pet closely for changes in behaviour or appetite or for any unusual illness such as fever, lameness, lethargy, bruising or bleeding if you suspect he’s been bitten by a tick,” Gordon says. “It’s also important to properly remove the tick, or to have it properly removed, to help prevent any disease or infection.”
Steps pet guardians can take include:
- Check your pets daily for ticks, especially if they spend time outdoors
- If you find a tick on your pet, remove it or have it removed by your veterinarian right away
- Ask your vet to conduct a tick check at each exam
- Talk to your vet about tickborne diseases in your area
- Reduce tick habitat in your yard
- Talk with your veterinarian about using tick preventatives on your pet – there are a number of safe medications and prevention is the best medicine
- Other parasites, such as fleas, can also be problematic for pets and humans if not properly addressed.
“Unlike lice, which are species-specific, fleas and ticks don’t discriminate – they’ll bite anything with a heartbeat,” Gordon says, adding deer and other wild animals can also carry the parasite.
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