As warm summer weather continues, dog owners are being warned to watch out for ticks when out enjoying nature with their furry friends.
Chestermere Veterinary Clinic’s Dr. Gabriela Rotaru said that her clinic has submitted about 20 ticks to the Alberta Health tick surveillance program.
She said none of those ticks were identified as deer ticks, the species of tick that carries Lyme disease.
Rotaru said that some of their clients have brought in pictures of ticks found on their dogs from the region that resemble deer ticks.
“However, it has not been confirmed by analysis,” she said.
While its often not know the exact spot that a tick is picked up by dogs or people, Rotaru said that the types of ticks that have been found in areas in and around Chestermere are usually found in places with tall grass or in wooded and bushy areas.
While Lyme disease is the most publicized disease risk posed by ticks, it is not the only debilitating disease spread by ticks to people and animals.
“Certain ticks have the potential to transmit erlichiosis, babesiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, anaplasmosis,” said Rotaru.
She recommends that people speak to their vet about specific products, such as chews or topical applications that can protect dogs from ticks.
Rotaru cautions that the effectiveness of tick and flea collars depends on the active ingredients and while they may provide protection from fleas and ticks, they don’t provide any defense from other kinds of parasite.
“Also, if dogs play with each other and accidentally eat the flea collar, this can be very toxic,” she said.
Another concern is that the active ingredients in flea and tick collars can interact with other medications one’s dog is taking.
“Always talk to a veterinarian before you make a decision which prevention is best for your pet,” said Rotaru.
When it comes to protection for people walking with their dogs, Rotaru said that the best protection is to wear light coloured clothes, long pants, especially in tall grass and wooded areas.
People should use bug spray that contains Deet.
People should check themselves, their pets and their gear after returning from hiking or walks.
“Walk on clear trails when you can,” she said.
If a tick is found, Rotaru encourages people to bring them into the clinic to be submitted for testing in the Alberta Health tick surveillance program.
“Testing is free” she said, “only with their help we will have a better idea of ticks prevalence in our province.”
Ticks should be brought in contained in a clear plastic sealed bag.
If the tick is a pet, she said people should either go into their nearest clinic of call into a veterinary hospital to get instructions on how to properly and safely remove the tick.
In people, along with having the tick removed they should see a doctor to be tested for Lyme disease.
Rotaru said that patients can develop clinical signs of the disease weeks or months after receiving an infected bite.
Common symptoms can include, arthritis and fever with possible heart and neurological problems. There can also be kidney damage.
“The other infectious diseases transmitted by ticks can be just as debilitating as Lyme disease is,” said Rotaru, “It is not worth the risk, protect your pet.”
According to the 2016 Alberta Health tick surveillance summary report, of 2,781 tick submissions in the province, 234 were identified as deer ticks.
Of those, 182 were determined to likely have been picked up within Alberta. Nineteen per cent of these tested positive for Lyme disease.
The 2017 statistics aren’t available yet.
According to the 2016 surveillance report, 374 ticks were submitted from the Calgary area with 13 deer ticks identified.