It’s tick season in the Okanagan and this year seems to be the worst yet.
If you like to hike with your dogs and enjoy the many trails offered all over the valley, here are some tips to keep your dogs safe and to also keep your four legged companions from bringing the blood sucking parasites into your home.
One important fact pet owners should keep in mind is that tick activity begins when it’s 4 C outside and can continue well into late fall, says the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. Ticks tend to hang out in long grasses and bushes.
REGULARLY CHECK YOUR DOG FOR TICKS
• Dogs tend to be bitten around the head and neck. Focus your search around the collar area and ears. Ticks are visible to the naked eye.
• If you find a suspicious grey/brown lump on your dog and think it might be a tick, check for their legs. You can often see them wriggling around its body, near the skin of your pet. That means the tick is engorged.
• A tick can fall off your dog after feeding. Often these bites don’t itch, so if your dog starts to show signs of paralysis it could be tick toxicity. Dogs with white paws, like border collies and Australian shepherds are more susceptible to tick toxicity.
• If you do spot a tick, it is important to take care when removing it.
• To remove a tick, do not use any noxious substances on it.
• Grab a fine pair of tweezers, pinch around the tick’s head - NOT its body - as close to the dog’s skin as possible, and pull straight out. Don’t yank because part of the body could stay in the dog.
|Always remove a tick by its head, not its body.
• You can also use a special tool called a “tick twister,” which you can pick up at most vet clinics in the spring-summer months.
• There are oral medications and sprays that can be used on our four legged friends that help with the prevention of ticks. Consult your veterinarian for those.
How do I kill a tick?
• Drop the tick into alcohol to kill it. Flushing it down the toilet will not kill ticks, they will just climb back up; it’s a sewer theme park ride for them. Do not squish the tick with your fingers.
The Rocky Mountain Wood Tick and the dog tick are the most common in the Okanagan. They are known to spread diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever in rare cases, and if left unchecked for multiple days can cause temporary paralysis in humans.