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Ticks - Prevention and Treatment

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Most people consider ticks pretty nasty little critters. They hide in long grass and bush-type environments, hanging around until picked up by dogs, cats, deer, and kids. 

Ticks are an external parasite that lives on the blood of animals. There are a number of different species in Canada including the species that carries Lyme disease. Ticks can be seen moving slowly through the hair or fixed in one place.  

Always consult with your veterinarian for their recommended tick products to avoid potential side effects from products purchased in the store. Your doctor knows your pet best and can advise you on the best prevention you can use for your dog. Check with your vet to see if Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections are a concern in your area. Your vet may want to discuss vaccination for Lyme disease in certain areas of Canada. 

Always check your pet for ticks after they come into the house. If you see a tick, pull it off using gloved fingers or tweezers. It’s unlikely you would contract illnesses like Lyme disease by removing ticks, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Grasp the tick as close to the “head” or mouthparts as you can and pull gently. Most pets will not react to tick removal as long as we are calm and collected about pulling off the tick. Do not try to smother the tick or suffocate it with Vaseline or alcohol. We don’t want to wait for the tick to fall off, because there is a higher chance of reactions and disease transmission. Never use a burnt or lit match to remove a tick. The best way to dispose of a tick once you’ve removed it from your pet is to put it in a jar of rubbing alcohol, which reduces the possibility of contamination. 

If you have a dog with a reaction from a tick bite, you can keep the area clean and dry. Ask your veterinarian about an over-the-counter antibiotic or cortisone-type ointment that can be used to spot treat the area. If the lesion begins to spread, the pet is scratching or licking at the area, or if the wound is not healing, your pet should be taken in for an examination to ensure there aren’t other problems related to the reaction.

Cats often remove ticks on their own with routine grooming. Never use dog tick-prevention products for cats, as they are absolutely toxic. Cats can also develop toxicity by grooming dogs that have been treated with these medications. Check with your veterinarian to see how long you should keep your cat away from your dog after using tick prevention.

For more information on tick prevention, check out our infographic on various parasites

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