Tick and Lyme disease prevention in dogs has been top-of-mind for dog owners across Ontario in recent years. Lyme disease cases rose three times between 2012 and 2017, and those numbers show no signs of slowing.
A driving factor behind the increase in Lyme disease, which is transported by the blacklegged tick, is the growing deer population in Ontario. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry told CTV News that there is a “tremendous overpopulation” of deer in Southern Ontario with the whitetail population estimated to be around 400,000.
While the prevalence of deer is a conservation success story, it doesn’t come without its unintended consequences. In this case, the unintended consequence to both humans and dogs is the explosion of the tick population and, therefore, Lyme disease.
Here are some ways that dog owners can reduce the chances their pet has of contracting Lyme disease.
1. Oral tick preventative medications
Ticks can spread diseases other than Lyme disease. In an effort to prevent this transmission, there are oral preventative options available through your veterinarian that will help lower the chances of your dog becoming infected. Please consult with your vet before providing any kind of treatment to your pet for tick and Lyme disease prevention.
2. Topical Preventative Medications
While we won’t provide you with specific medication advice in this blog — again, that’s a conversation you should have with your dog’s vet — there are many topical products that could help reduce the chances your dog has of contracting ticks and Lyme disease.
3. Vaccinations and check-ups
There are vaccinations available through your vet that can help prevent ticks from transmitting Lyme disease to your dog.
Vaccinations can be given in conjunction with your pet’s yearly check-up. These check-ups are important and necessary. They allow your vet to spot early signs of vector-borne diseases. As with many diseases, early detection can lead to an easier time fighting off the disease.
4. Maintain your outdoor areas
If you have a yard where your dog runs and plays, remove all dead leaves, trim your hedges, and keep your grasses short. Not only does this work result in good exercise for you, but it also reduces the chance that your yard will attract ticks.
5. Check your dog for ticks on a regular basis
Make checking for ticks a regular habit.
To check for ticks, simply run your fingers through your dog’s coat and on its skin, and feel for bumps. Make sure to also check between their toes, around their face and ears, in their armpit areas, and under their tail.
Ticks can range in size. Smaller ones are the size of a pinhead. Larger ones can be the size of a small grape. They are generally brown or black in colour but they can turn grey when engorged (swelled with blood).
If you find a tick, grasp it as close to the dog’s skin as possible with tweezers or a tick removal tool. Steadily and slowly pull the tick out of the skin.
If you think your dog has ticks or you would like to know more about tick and Lyme disease prevention, get in touch with us as soon as possible!