Now that spring is here, we will all be going outdoors to enjoy some fun in the sun. Wooded areas and tall grasses are home to many insects and ticks. Ticks are arachnids, in the same family as spiders, and feed off a host’s blood.
There are various species of ticks that call Vancouver Island home. The most common are the Western black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus) and deer tick (Ixodes scapularis), as well as Ixodes angustus. Ticks will often spend a few days on their host looking for just the right spot to settle down for a meal. These ticks have a life cycle that involves three hosts they feed on while growing. To feed, ticks use their mouthparts to bite the host.
Ticks are capable of transmitting bacteria that can cause diseases as they are feeding, namely Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi), anaplasma and ehrichlia. It is the nymph stage, who feeds on the second host, which is the most capable of transmitting disease. According to Vancouver Island Health Authority in 2012 (www.VIHA.ca), it was estimated that less than 1% of ticks in BC carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. To further protect your pet against Lyme disease, please ask about the Lyme vaccine.
If you find a tick on your pet, it is important to remove the entire body, not to leave the head embedded in the skin. The correct way to remove a tick is to twist it at the base and pull straight up. Do not pinch the tick as this may cause them to regurgitate the bacteria that can cause disease. Tick twisters are available to help pet owners safely remove ticks. For pets that spend a lot of time outside, tick repellent products, such as Advantix, Revolution and Advantage Multi are available. For more information regarding these products, please give us a call or stop by to chat.
Remember, ticks will always have legs, eight of them, and are grey or brown in colour, so take a close look and make sure that it is truly a tick that you are trying to remove! Some small masses or nipples can very closely resemble ticks!