Spring is finally around the corner. Temperatures are rising, snow is melting, flowers are blooming and the ticks are talking. That’s right, it’s tick season… but what exactly does that mean?
Adult ticks are most often active in the spring from March through mid-May, then later in fall from mid-August to November when the temperatures are anywhere above freezing. They can mostly be found hiding in areas of dense greenery such as forest undergrowth, bushes, and tall grass. This means that your pet is at risk of carrying home an unwelcome guest if they wander into any of these areas.
What are ticks?
Ticks are external parasites that feed off of a host’s blood to develop their eggs. In that regard, they are similar to mosquitos as they can carry and transmit disease when they bite into their host. While they are easier to avoid as they do not jump or fly, it is important to be aware of the dangers of ticks and the diseases they can carry. There are several species of ticks, but namely in BC there are two main kinds that we should be aware of:
- Rocky Mountain Wood Tick – One of the predominant ticks in BC is known as the Rocky Mountain Wood Tick. Although this tick may not be a carrier of severe disease, it does cause a condition called tick paralysis. This condition causes its victims to have a progressive feeling of numbness spread throughout the body. In cases where the tick is not removed in a timely manner, death can occur.
- Western Black Legged Tick – Another tick that is located predominantly in BC is the Western Black Legged Tick. While this tick does not cause paralysis, it is a known to be a carrier of lyme disease. The first symptom of lyme disease is redness in the skin. If left untreated, this disease can cause damage to the nervous and muscular system.
Once you recognize the signs and problems associated with ticks, preventive measures can easily be taken to ensure the protection of you and your furry companion.
Preventive measures are the most important and cost effective way to stop these unexpected events from occurring. The easiest method of prevention is avoidance: keep ticks away by avoiding areas of overgrowth from March to May. No contact means no contract!
Another preventive way is to wear long clothing; this will stop ticks from attaching directly onto the skin and hiding in the fur or hair of the host.
Finally, perform regular checkups on your pet by combing and parting their fur after walks to check for signs of ticks. This allows for correct treatment to be given in a timely manner if a tick is discovered.
At the first sight of a tick, people are often prone to panic and attempt to remove the tick by themselves. However, this is not a safe method as removal of the tick can cause the hooks in the head of the tick, or even the head itself to remain intact within the skin. This can lead to infections and cause further damage.
Safe removal of ticks require a pair of small tweezers and a gentle twisting motion. Once a tick is removed, most symptoms should reside, but further blood tests should be done to determine if the host has contracted lyme disease.
At Central Park Animal Hospital, we provide special tick removing tweezers that are safe and simple to use on pets and humans. If there is ever any confusion regarding the removal a tick, we recommend visiting an experienced medical practitioner to have the service done for you — it is always better to be safe than sorry.
All in all, ticks can be like a ticking time bomb if not treated immediately. As such, take preventive measures by getting vaccines for tick related diseases and by recognizing the signs to allow you and your furry friends to stay healthy and bite-free. Get in touch today with our friendly staff to arrange an appointment for your pet.
If you have any more questions, you can visit the government of BC website for more information on ticks.