Ticks and fleas have been a concern for pet owners for many years but it wasn’t that long ago where tick and flea prevention was a seasonal occurrence. Living in the city we didn’t put too much thought into it. After all, most ticks happen out in the country in heavily wooded areas, right? Unfortunately, the pesky little buggers have creeped into our neck of the woods…er, city. Reports of ticks hitching rides on our pets are on the rise. Even my Instagram scrolling recently landed me Liberty Village Animal Hospital showing a tick removal to raise awareness. EW! And now I’m checking my pup constantly. They are in the city!

Aside from being a nuisance for our beloved furry family members and us, we also know they can also carry disease.  According to the City of Toronto Public Health Office’s site, “Tick populations are expanding in Canada. Blacklegged ticks have been found in Toronto, and are established here. All of Toronto is considered an Estimated Risk Area according to Public Health Ontario’s (PHO): Ontario Lyme Disease Map 2022. Estimated risk areas are locations where blacklegged ticks have been identified or are known to occur and where humans have the potential to come into contact with infective ticks.

The risk of contracting Lyme disease in Toronto, is considered to be low but has been increasing. The risk of Lyme disease can be decreased by preventing tick bites, early detection and removal of ticks.”

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Prevention is the key. Veterinary clinics highly recommend preventative tick & flea medication for our pets. For our dogs, we often hear of Simparica Trio (a chewable for tick, flea and heartworm prevention) or K9AdventixII (a topical used for reduction of bites from ticks, fleas, lice, mosquitoes and stable flies). Always consult with your vet before giving any medication to your pet!

If ticks and fleas go unchecked they can quickly become an infestation on your pet, your family, and inside your home. Ticks actually feast on the blood of the host and they love to latch on. Yep, they hit the jackpot and you are Vegas.

How can you tell if your dog has a tick bite?

If you’ve got a dog like mine, it can be difficult. Harley has a thick double coat plus he’s a corgi so, his low-rider profile means he’s constantly brushing his belly along the grass. Ugh.

Some common signs you should watch for…

  • Licking, nibbling or scratching to a specific area on the body.
  • Ear or head shaking that is out of character or more than usual.
  • Feeling a bump or dry patch that wasn’t there before.
  • low energy, lethargy, loss of appetite and fever.
  • if you discover a bite surrounded with a red ring, take a photo and contact your vet asap. This is a common indicator of a tick that may be a carrier of Lyme disease. By the way, if caught early, it can be treated in dogs successfully.

Harley tickless

But what else can you do to be proactive? A few useful tips…

Ideally stay on sidewalks and well maintained paths rather than wooded areas are better choices.

Keep your pet groomed throughout the summer season. Regular brushing is good But if you have a dog that has an infestation please don’t bring them to the groomers or daycare and risk spreading it to others.

Have the necessary tools on hand in case you need to remove a tick. Tweezers work or ask your veterinary clinic as they sometimes have them for free (kinda like when we get a complimentary toothbrush when we go to the dentist). There are many “how to” videos out there on YouTube that explains the proper removal of ticks.

Consider adding a non-toxic and safe repellent. I discovered Tickless Tick & Flea Repeller, a device available for both humans and pets that is a safe, non-toxic and chemical-free way to repel ticks and fleas. The device transmits an ultrasonic pulse at a frequency that is sensitive to ticks and fleas and redirects them away from the user but not detectable by humans, pets, or other wildlife. So, they’ll just go the other direction and not even be tempted to feast in the first place.  According to the site, it’s been around for a while and commonly used in Europe. It just arrived in Canada and available at many pet stores including PetSmart, I’ve been asked “how do you know if it works?” I think I’ll know more if it doesn’t work. So far so good. It’s a low cost and small device attached to his collar when we go outside. It’s an added deterrent and it doesn’t seem to bother my dog at all. You can read more about the device here.

After a walk, particularly in forested areas or open fields, CHECK yourself and your pets for ticks immediately. Be sure to check also in-between paws, skin folds, ears, folds, groin, and belly. You’ll want to remove any before they latch on — they’re a real pain once they settle in and become engorged. Dispose properly.

Contact your appropriate health care professional to identify and determine next step for testing. By the way, there is more than one type of tick!

Have a backyard? Make sure you maintain your lawn by cutting of grass. Remove dead leaves and weeds from the edges of your lawn.

Ticks apparently love rodents, birds and other wildlife. Check around your property for any gaping spaces where they have made themselves at home and discourage them from settling near where your pet would be curious about. Also, move bird feeders or water stations as far as possible.

Heading up to the cottage or hiking trip with your pet? Remember to pack a first aid kit and take note of the location of the nearest animal healthcare clinic. If you’ve got a new furry family member be sure to ask your vet about what’s the safest option for young pups. JunoVet is a great new membership-based vet clinic in Toronto. Aside from in-person same day or next day primary and urgent care they also offers unlimited 24/7 virtual online professional support – ideal for when you’re away and don’t have access to healthcare. They respond quickly and can quickly triage, provide upfront cost options, and determine next steps.

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Most Recent Reporting…

Recently Public Health Ontario released a Surveillance Report (May 17, 2023) on the most recent estimated risk areas in our province.

Public Health Ontario Ticks Estimated Risk Map May 20203