Thoughtful pet owners usually breathe a sigh of relief as the calendar year comes to an end. You’ve been diligent with your flea and tick treatments for most of the year and now, you can finally give your furry friend a break.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case anymore. Tick season is longer. Actually, it’s more accurate to say that there is no real tick season – care has to be given year-round. And veterinary clinics across Canada are changing their protocols because of it.
The extended season
When we think of climate change, images of shrinking ice, horrific storms, and flooding coastlines immediately come to mind. But these significant shifts can have more subtle ramifications. Warming temperatures allow ticks to thrive in places that they previously couldn’t or survive longer in the typical areas you would find them. Ticks generally need temperatures slightly above freezing to initiate “questing” (waiting for a host to pass by), with the ideal temperature ranging between 7 and 29 degrees Celsius. Forget the warmer months from Spring through Fall – a mild winter can allow dangerous tick populations to rebound quickly.
That means a significantly greater number of ticks throughout the year and understandably, an increased risk to your pet because ticks bring life-threatening diseases with them.
Vets to the rescue
The situation sounds ominous for those pet owners concerned with protecting their companion animals. But there’s no need to worry as long as the proper steps are taken. Canadian clinics are on it. Our veterinarians understand the urgency of addressing this problem and have changed the way they handle the necessary care.
Woodbine Animal Clinic in Toronto is among them. Here are some of the steps the clinic has taken to take on the increasing threat:
- Continuing to give patients tick/flea/heartworm preventative (Simparica TRIO) until the end of November
- Recommendation to continue the tick/flea preventative (Simparica) throughout the winter months, especially for higher-risk dogs who spend time in wooded areas
“The majority of ticks we removed from dogs at the clinic this year were in the winter months,” says Woodbine’s registered veterinary technician Elizabeth Wiebe. “None of the patients were on a tick preventative.”
Just to be safe
The new protocols are a useful tool in protecting our pets. But there are other ways to be vigilant in the face of this challenging new landscape.
1) Vaccinations – In some cases, clinics might recommend a vaccine against specific tick-borne diseases. They can add a layer of protection and help reduce the severity of any infection.
2) Tick proof your home – The more you can do in your own surroundings, the better off your pet will be. That means keeping the yard tidy, disposing of leaves, and doing a regular check on your pet, particularly after an outdoor adventure.
3) Education – Veterinary practices play an important role in tick prevention and any good pet owner will use the tools they have at their disposal. Your clinic can provide fantastic information on tick habitats, prevention methods, and the signs of diseases associated with ticks. Use them!
4) Team effort – Clinics collaborate with government and research institutions to monitor tick populations and point out high-risk areas that should be avoided. Ongoing surveillance is crucial to tackling the growing tick problem. And that information is accessible to the public.