Did you know that ticks are on the rise in Hamilton and all over Ontario? Ticks become active and want to feed in early spring when temperatures rise above 4 degrees. Ticks are found under leaf litter in places such as parks or backyards as well as in long grass and wooded areas. Dogs that are at risk of tick exposure should start preventive medications around the beginning of April because when the ticks start to emerge they are hungry! Prevention will not only help to eliminate ticks on our pets but also reduces the chance of them spreading diseases like Lyme disease, which can infect people.
During tick season it is a good idea to do a tick check every night. As you are petting your dog pay special attention to the area around the ears, neck, face, legs and belly, though they can attach anywhere. If you find a tick on your pet call us or visit our website for instructions on removing it and identifying it. Check yourself as well. If you find a tick on your own body call your doctor. Always keep a tick that has been removed from you or your pet as it should be identified and tested to see if it carries any diseases.
We can help reduce the chance of disease in your pet two other ways. The first is by protecting your dog with a tick prevention product. There is a topical liquid product called Advantix which is applied monthly. Also there are two new chewable tablets available this year. Nexguard is given monthly or Bravecto is given every 3 months. All of them have the added benefit of preventing fleas as well. We recommend using tick prevention for 9 months (April to December). The reason for this is that while adult ticks are most active in the spring and fall, the younger ticks, called nymphs, are feeding mostly in the summer. Both these stages have the ability to transmit disease.
The second preventative measure we can take is to vaccinate your dog against Lyme disease. If this is a new vaccine for your dog then initially two vaccines are given one month apart. After that the vaccine is given yearly. It is important to remember that the vaccine does not protect against the other diseases carried by ticks so for that reason we recommend using a combination of the above preventative treatments. If your pet is at risk of tick exposure, please give us a call and we would be pleased to discuss options for their protection.