Fears of the dreaded Lyme disease has prompted warnings to avoid ticks that are becoming more prevalent in Ontario. Pets can come into contact with ticks during walks in grassy or wooded areas—especially during the summer when ticks are active.
Ticks are small blood-sucking parasites that are difficult to detect (especially if they latch onto your pet).
According to Peel Public Health, there is currently no evidence of established populations of black-legged ticks in Mississauga.
As of June 2016, there were no ticks that tested positive for Lyme disease in Peel.
That said, health experts say that tick populations are on the rise and that people do not have to be in high-risk areas to come into contact with ticks and Lyme disease. Warmer climates and migratory birds can also affect tick populations, so residents are advised to consult their pet’s veterinarian and Public Health Ontario for information on tick-heavy areas.
When taking your pet for a walk, check for ticks on your return especially during camping trips, walks in the woods or areas with thick vegetation or tall grass.
Early detection and prompt removal of the tick is crucial, as it can take up to 24 hours for a tick to transmit Lyme disease after the initial bite occurs.
Although ticks are small and difficult to spot, they become engorged after feeding and therefore easier to detect.
As for how to check your pets, Animal Services recommends spreading your pet’s fur and slowly running your hands over their entire body, paying attention to the head, ears, neck and feet. You should be feeling for any unusual lumps or bumps.
Since ticks may be very difficult to detect, so check repeatedly and carefully.
If you do see one, remove it very carefully. Put on a pair of gloves and grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible using fine-tipped tweezers. Be careful not to squeeze the insect, as that could prompt it to introduce Lyme disease. Once you grasp it, pull it out gently but firmly and cleanse the bite site with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. Be sure to keep the tick in a secure container and bring it to your vet for testing.
For more information on Lyme disease visit the Peel Public Health website.