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Ticks and Lyme Disease: Keep Your Pets Safe and Healthy

The longer days and mild conditions of spring make long walks and outdoor exploration a favourite activity for many pet owners, especially in areas of Ontario, which has lots of forests, trails and parks.

However, lurking amongst all the beauty, there poses a threat to our pets— infected ticks, which can carry Lyme disease.

Ticks and Lyme disease have been on the rise in recent years because of milder winters and heavily wooded areas. Ticks become active when temperatures reach 4°C, so early preventive measures for pets are important. The hardest part about treating ticks and Lyme disease is that bites aren’t always visible, which makes regular check-ups with your veterinarian important.

Whether you’re headed to a national park, conservation area or just playing in your backyard, experience the outdoors with your pet with peace of mind—make an appointment with your veterinarian to talk about parasite prevention. And remember, when you’re out and about, your vet is just a phone call away.

Consider these tips to help prevent, identify and treat ticks and Lyme disease:

PREVENTION

  • Annual blood tests can check for the presence of Lyme disease, and various other tick-borne diseases, in your pet
  • Preventive medicines, including a monthly chewable or topical skin solution, can keep ticks and fleas at bay. Ask your veterinarian which product is best for your pet.
  • Remove items from your yard that may act as a home for ticks such as debris, brush, weeds and leaves.
  • Stay on marked paths and keep pets leashed when walking through wooded areas.

IDENTIFICATION

  • After walks, do a full-body check of your pet and yourself for ticks, and pay extra attention to the areas around the head, neck and paws of your pet. A tick feels like a small bump on the skin.
  • If your pet has been infected, he/she may show signs of sickness, including joint pain, fatigue, and loss of appetite.

TREATMENT

  • Remove ticks promptly to prevent the spread of disease. If possible, bring the tick to your veterinarian, as the insect can be sent away to a laboratory, to identify and test whether it is infected or not.
  • If you suspect your pet has been infected, call your veterinarian immediately.
  • If possible, keep your pet hydrated and fed, but don’t administer any medication

– Special thanks to the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association for their tips on tick safety!

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