Spring is finally coming! But with it also unfortunately arrive a lot of small unwanted parasites! Let’s focus in this article on ticks that are increasingly present in our areas. About a hundred of these species are found in North America, but only a dozen of them affect humans or animals.
It is believed that the emergence of certain transmitted infections in our region is due to the fact that we have a greater access to the wilderness where there are developing ticks that live on growing animal populations such as white-tailed deer and wild turkey. Ticks can transmit several diseases, including Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis.
Worrying phenomenon, Lyme disease appears to be growing in our region. Indeed, in 2013, at the Ste-Agathe Veterinary Hospital, we diagnosed antibodies for Lyme disease in 2.5% of dogs tested. By 2014, the percentage almost doubled to 4.5%.
Ticks are active when the temperature is above 4 °C, so very early in the spring with the arrival of migratory birds that drop them anywhere and until late in the fall. They climb on tall grasses or bushes until their favorite host passes by. Once on their host, they move in the fur to find a site that suits them. They seem to favor the head, the neck and the back. They will take 24 to 48 hours to anchor securely before taking their meal which will last several days.
It is not always easy to detect the presence of a tick on your animal and to recognize what species it belongs to. These parasites can measure barely 1 mm in the larva or nymph stage, and about 4 to 6 mm adults after their meal, full of blood. Unfortunately, it is often when ticks are full of blood that we find them and they will have had time to transmit the infections.
What you should remember: Lyme disease can not be transmitted to you by your dog or cat. On the other hand, if your pet is exposed to ticks, there is a good chance that you will also be exposed to ticks and therefore Lyme disease. Annoyingly, this disease is much more difficult to diagnose and treat in humans.
90% of dogs will develop antibodies against the bacteria without developing clinical signs; Dogs with lower immunity will be at greater risk of developing the disease. The signs of Lyme disease in dogs are fever, depression and joint pain that manifests as lameness; In rare cases, dogs will develop neurological signs or kidney disease. One can easily check the presence of antibodies by a blood test analyzed directly at our Veterinary Hospital.
Following the analysis of the most recent studies and the situation in our region, Ste-Agathe Veterinary Hospital recommends:
- An annual blood screening (as of April 1st) to check the presence of antibodies in the dog. This will allow follow-up for dogs exposed to Lyme disease and canine heartworm disease (heartworm disease). Thus informed of the probable presence of ticks in their environment, the owners of animals will be able to make an adequate prevention.
- If your dog has had ticks or a positive blood test, we advise you to do tick prevention.