Ticks: What You Need To Know

With the early spring we are experiencing here in Alberta, ticks may be emerging early than is typical (mid-April to mid-August is peak tick season).

Ticks emerge in the spring from either leaf litter (3 host tick) or fall off of a host such as moose (1 host tick). The ticks crawl up blades of grass and wait for an unsuspecting animal to walk by.  When a dog brushes past the blade of grass, the tick will climb on to the fur and then burrow into the dog’s skin for a blood meal.  The most common ticks in Alberta are the moose tick and the deer tick. The deer tick can carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. People and dogs can contract Lyme disease and it can have serious effects.  Dogs can show symptoms such as fever, lameness, lethargy, swollen lymph nodes, polyarthritis, nephritis, carditis and neurological signs.

You can help make your yard less tick friendly by:

  • Clearing any tall grass at the edge of lawns and around your home
  • Keeping the lawn short and free of brush and debris
  • Removing bird feeders in early spring
  • Discouraging the presence of deer and small rodents

If you walk your pet through wooded areas with tall grass or camp with your pet, it is recommended to use a tick preventative.  Advantix is a topical product that is applied to the skin in the scruff area.  It lasts for 30 days and prevents ticks from burrowing into the skin, which prevents the transmission of the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.  Please talk to your veterinarian about ticks and how to best to protect your pet.

If you find a tick on your pet, grasp it with tweezers by the head and apply gentle pressure to remove it.  Then bring the tick in to the clinic and we will send it to for identification and testing for Lyme disease.

Written by: Dr. Lori Skrypnek