Over the last few years we have seen a steady increase in the number of ticks found on pets in Hamilton. At this point it is now no longer uncommon to find deer ticks in our own backyards within the city. Furthermore, given the mild winter it is expected that the tick population will increase even more this spring. Ticks will emerge and start to feed as soon as the temperature rises above 4 degrees. For this reason we are recommending that tick prevention should be started for dogs as early as March this year. Ticks will continue to be active until the temperature drops below 4 degrees and there is snow cover. Currently we cannot predict when this will be, but it could extend in to December. There is actually a rise in the adult tick population in late fall/early winter.
Ticks are known for spreading Lyme disease, but they also have the potential to transmit Ehrilichia Anaplasma and Babesia. Recently the Lone Star Tick has also been found in Ontario which transmits a disease called Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. All of these have the potential to cause disease in pets and people. It is our goal to be as proactive as possible to prevent these diseases. Currently we can vaccinate dogs for Lyme disease but not for any of the others. This is why appropriate vaccination as well as tick prevention medication are both important aspects of a prevention strategy.
Reducing exposure will also help to reduce tick bites, especially in people. Some ways to implement this around your house would be to remove leaf litter frequently, keep grass short, and discourage wild animals from entering the yard (secure household garbage, avoid ponds, block areas where animals may hide/live, such as under decks and sheds). For people it is best cover up when possible, especially by tucking pants into socks so ticks can be seen and brushed off. Daily tick checks are also important for people and pets. Ticks need to be attached for 24-48 hours to transmit Lyme disease but some of the other diseases can be transmitted in as little as 4-6 hours. If your find a tick on yourself or your dog it should be removed as soon as possible. Ticks from people can be brought to the public health department for identification.
If you would like to learn more this website provides reliable and accurate information: