PET HEALTH CORNER: The Truth about Ticks

by | General Pet Care |

Don’t “Lyme” to me – The Truth about Ticks

It’s hard to talk about flea season without discussing ticks, according to Dave Wilson, director of Shelter Health and Wellness for the Ontario SPCA and retired vet.

What are ticks and where can they be found?

ticks
Deer tick

Wilson says while fleas are insects, with 6 legs, ticks are members of the spider family, and as a result, have great biting mouthparts they can use.

He says ticks are attracted to three things: body motion, body heat, and carbon dioxide. He says this is easier to find with a dog because they pant and sniff all over the ground.

“Usually what people will find is the actual tick on the dog, and if it’s just landed and hasn’t really started to feed, it’s quite tiny,” says Wilson, adding if they’ve been feeding for days they can grow to 10 times their original size.

Ticks are ground-dwellers, Wilson says, so they move from low shrubbery, or the ground to latch onto your pet. He says ticks can be found on the body parts of your pet that sit closest to the ground: neck, head, around the ears, the front part of their chest, and the underside of the chest.

He says ticks can spend 5-10 days feeding on your pet, and then drop off and spend several weeks digesting until they are hungry again. Most of the time, Wilson says ticks drop off outside, and won’t land in your house unless knocked off your pet when they’re ready to drop off.

“So it’s pretty rare to have ticks in your home,” he says.

Side Effects

The biggest side effect of ticks bites is Lyme disease, “a serious illness which can be spread by the bite of infected blacklegged ticks” according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Wilson says ticks can also cause Tick Paralysis from their bites, but more common reactions are only local.

He says ticks spit up liquid when they bite that gets under your pet’s skin, causing a reaction. Removing ticks improperly can also cause problems.

“A lot of times people by mistake will try and pull the tick out but do it wrong, and they’ll actually leave some of the mouth parts, and some of the head under the skin,” Wilson says.