It is known to almost all dog owners that ticks can attach to their dog, as they can attach to humans. It is also generally accepted as being a very unfavorable experience to have a tick attached to your dog or to yourself.
What is much less known though is the fact that there are serious tick-borne diseases that can be transmitted to your dog (and some to yourself) and can cause serious illnesses and even be fatal if left untreated.
There are certain epidemiological considerations about the diseases that can be borne and transmitted by ticks. This means, in simple words;
1 – There are certain areas where ticks are quite prevalent and reproducing effectively, and because of this their population is growing rapidly. We call these areas “endemic areas”, and in Ontario we have the Kingston area, Prince Edward County, and Rough River valley – Markham and Scarborough among the very important endemic areas.
2 – There are certain types of ticks among this population that can transmit the diseases. The extremely important tick types, in terms of disease transmission, are “Ixodes” and Dermacentor”.
3 – There are a number of certain diseases that are transmitted by these ticks in the mentioned areas through those tick types. On top of all is “Lyme” disease.
4 – The season of tick activity in Ontario is typically between March and November.
Ticks live in the bush and prefer to stay very close to the walking/hiking paths of people and animals. They wait on the tall grass and easily attach to their host when they pass by. Then they insert their head into the skin of the host and fix their head in there by secretion of a biologic cement that they produce. Then they start sucking blood of the host. The whole process is painless to the host and they do not realize they have a parasite on them.
If your dog is attacked by a tick or more, and if the tick has the Lyme disease bacteria in it, it will take the tick about 24 hours to transmit the bacteria to the blood of your dog.
Lyme disease spreads throughout the body very slowly and it may take weeks to months for clinical signs of illness to show up. The most common signs are lethargy, loss or reduction of appetite, intermittent fever, stiffness in the joints and painful movement.
We, at Unionville South Pet Hospital, as your veterinarian in Markham, can diagnose Lyme disease in your dog and treatment is usually very effective, IF DIAGNOSED EARLY.
The prevention is always more effective and less costly than the diagnosis and treatment. There is preventive medication as well as a Lyme vaccine available.
Please contact us for assistance with preventing ticks from attaching to your dog and from transmission of Lyme disease!!
Happy Tick Prevention!
Dr. Dave Bonab
Unionville South Pet Hospital
905 604 5 604