I love spring because of the flowers and gardens and the warmer weather. Unfortunately, all of that means it is also tick season and I hate ticks. I’m not sure they have any redeeming qualities and I’m not sure why they exist, other than to transmit disease and creep people out. I’ve pulled one too many off of my kids every year, and I pull about 100 or more off of my horse every spring.
Putting my own personal feelings aside, talking about ticks is important as they do transmit disease to both humans and dogs. Many parts of the country have an endemic tick population and each area may have a higher or lower risk of certain tick borne diseases.
In our neck of the woods in British Columbia, we deal mainly with ticks that can cause a paralysis. This can be fatal if not recognized but most of the time once the issue is recognized and the tick is killed/removed, then the animal has a normal return to function. Wild animals aren’t always so lucky however.
In other areas such as Ontario and the Maritimes, Lyme disease is a real concern. Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria. Lyme disease can cause lameness, fever and lymph nodes to swell. There can also be damage to the kidneys. Antibiotics often will help the signs go away but dogs may relapse and have other issues later in life. Dogs who have kidney disease associated with Lyme disease do not have a good outcome. Discuss your dog’s risk with your veterinarian as there are preventive medications as well as a vaccine. Removing ticks as quickly as possible is key.
In Western Canada, Rocky Mounted Spotted Fever can occasionally be seen and it is also caused by a type of bacteria. Dogs will show fever, listlessness and often some sort of bleeding disturbance. The prognosis is really good as long as treatment is started right away and the disease is recognized early. Tick prevention is also key to prevent this disease and very early removal of a tick is important.
So, check your dog daily, throw your clothes in the dryer after you’ve been outside hiking with them, use bug spray when walking in grassy/brush areas, use tick prevention medication for your dogs and do a daily check of yourself. When checking your dog, don’t forget to check their ears and in their mouth!