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Local veterinarian reminds us every day can be tick season

Local veterinarian reminds us every day can be tick season
Alberta’s temperature swings and the desire to spend time in the backwoods year-round give ticks the constant food source they crave.
Alberta’s temperature swings and the desire to spend time in the backwoods year-round give ticks the constant food source they crave.
IMAGE: Alberta Veterinary Medical Association
Although it might be winter, some creatures, like ticks, have become accustomed to our changing climate. Local veterinarians remind pet owners to be vigilant year-round, especially if they venture out in the backcountry with their furry friends. March is National Tick Awareness Month.
IMAGE: Alberta Veterinary Medical Association
Although it might be winter, some creatures, like ticks, have become accustomed to our changing climate. Local veterinarians remind pet owners to be vigilant year-round, especially if they venture out in the backcountry with their furry friends. March is National Tick Awareness Month.

Local veterinarian reminds us every day can be tick season

By Dave Lueneberg
By Dave Lueneberg
March 9, 2024
March 9, 2024

Like fleas, ticks can quickly become a nuisance for your four-legged friend and, if not treated in time, can lead to bigger problems, like Lyme disease.

It’s a message the veterinary community wants to get out this month as it marks March as National Tick Awareness Month.

Usually picked up in woodlands and forested areas of the region, these eight-legged arthropods love to attach themselves to warm-blooded bodies.

“Any and all,” says Dr. Kari Grandoni with Peak Veterinary Clinic in Pincher Creek.

“Humans, dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, pet birds — really anything that goes outside and, certainly in our area, wildlife is the big one that brings them in.”

While you might think it’s still winter and there’s no concern, Alberta’s temperature swings and the desire to take our family members with us to the backwoods year-round give ticks the constant food source they crave.

“Take today, for example, where it’s minus 20-ish and it’s supposed to get to [plus] 18 on the weekend,” says Dr. Grandoni. “So, when you get these wild temperature fluctuations, really we have shifted from telling our clients ‘spring and fall’ to actually year-round surveillance.”

Ticks are traditionally active above 0 degrees Celsius but Dr. Grandoni says some studies have shown them thriving in cooler minus digits in dens or when they attach themselves to wildlife. For dogs that are off-leash on a regular basis in the backcountry, the suggestion is for year-round preventive measures, like a monthly treatment.

“What we also recommend when you come home after an outing is to check over your pet,” she says.

 

Ad for Shadowbar Shepherds Training in Pincher Creek

 

Ticks “typically tend to go to the hairless area of your pet. So, in and around the ears, under the collar, under the front legs, between the toes, and around the base of the tail. Maybe, after 24 hours, do so again. What happens is the tick starts feeding right away. They’re very tiny…about the size of a pinhead when they attach.”

Depending on the colour of the coat, they may be hard to spot. That changes once they’ve eaten and is the reason for checking a second time.

Unlike fleas, though, where there might be distinct scratching, how your pet reacts to ticks may not be the same.

“There’s no real clinical sign,” says Dr. Grandoni.

“It’s something that the owner may have found, something that they want us to check out or we’re doing a physical exam and we find a tick that the owner wasn’t aware of. In extreme infestations, they’ll get some hair loss. Sometimes you’ll get a dog itching at it, but that’s not the norm.”

With increasing options on store shelves, it’s a good idea to check with your vet first on what’s best for your pet.

“We’re now suggesting systemic products for dogs and cats,” she says.

While tick collars were highly recommended at one time, some product lines were linked to high toxicity levels.

Dr. Grandoni believes preventive measures are the best way to protect your pet. But equally as important is a thorough check of your pet after the journey and then 24 hours later.

“Never overlook the tick test,” she says. “If we can safely remove a tick in the first 24 to 36 hours, then the risk for transmission of disease will be greatly reduced.”

More details can be found online at TickTalkCanada, a Canadian Veterinary Medical Association resource.

 

 

Table setting of wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

Like fleas, ticks can quickly become a nuisance for your four-legged friend and, if not treated in time, can lead to bigger problems, like Lyme disease.

It’s a message the veterinary community wants to get out this month as it marks March as National Tick Awareness Month.

Usually picked up in woodlands and forested areas of the region, these eight-legged arthropods love to attach themselves to warm-blooded bodies.

“Any and all,” says Dr. Kari Grandoni with Peak Veterinary Clinic in Pincher Creek.

“Humans, dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, pet birds — really anything that goes outside and, certainly in our area, wildlife is the big one that brings them in.”

While you might think it’s still winter and there’s no concern, Alberta’s temperature swings and the desire to take our family members with us to the backwoods year-round give ticks the constant food source they crave.

“Take today, for example, where it’s minus 20-ish and it’s supposed to get to [plus] 18 on the weekend,” says Dr. Grandoni. “So, when you get these wild temperature fluctuations, really we have shifted from telling our clients ‘spring and fall’ to actually year-round surveillance.”

Ticks are traditionally active above 0 degrees Celsius but Dr. Grandoni says some studies have shown them thriving in cooler minus digits in dens or when they attach themselves to wildlife. For dogs that are off-leash on a regular basis in the backcountry, the suggestion is for year-round preventive measures, like a monthly treatment.

“What we also recommend when you come home after an outing is to check over your pet,” she says.

 

Ad for Blinds and More in Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass

 

Ticks “typically tend to go to the hairless area of your pet. So, in and around the ears, under the collar, under the front legs, between the toes, and around the base of the tail. Maybe, after 24 hours, do so again. What happens is the tick starts feeding right away. They’re very tiny…about the size of a pinhead when they attach.”

Depending on the colour of the coat, they may be hard to spot. That changes once they’ve eaten and is the reason for checking a second time.

Unlike fleas, though, where there might be distinct scratching, how your pet reacts to ticks may not be the same.

“There’s no real clinical sign,” says Dr. Grandoni.

“It’s something that the owner may have found, something that they want us to check out or we’re doing a physical exam and we find a tick that the owner wasn’t aware of. In extreme infestations, they’ll get some hair loss. Sometimes you’ll get a dog itching at it, but that’s not the norm.”

With increasing options on store shelves, it’s a good idea to check with your vet first on what’s best for your pet.

“We’re now suggesting systemic products for dogs and cats,” she says.

While tick collars were highly recommended at one time, some product lines were linked to high toxicity levels.

Dr. Grandoni believes preventive measures are the best way to protect your pet. But equally as important is a thorough check of your pet after the journey and then 24 hours later.

“Never overlook the tick test,” she says. “If we can safely remove a tick in the first 24 to 36 hours, then the risk for transmission of disease will be greatly reduced.”

More details can be found online at TickTalkCanada, a Canadian Veterinary Medical Association resource.

 

 

 

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