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Ticks: Celebrating spring with peace of mind

Ticks: Celebrating spring with peace of mind

- Categories : Health

© Martine Lavallée, Technicienne en santé animale et BAA

In our area, the arrival of spring can mean the arrival of ticks. Also, with our continually milder winters, ticks are likely to survive them more and more. Let's not forget that they become active between 4 to 7 degrees Celsius. Moreover, you should know that these parasites feed on any warm-blooded animal, but in our household it is especially our dogs and ourselves who are susceptible to certain diseases that they transmit. They can therefore be a major inconvenience. Prevention is better than cure when this season arrives in our region. 

Information on ticks

In North America, there are more than 100 species of ticks and about 40 in Canada alone. Twelve species can potentially spread certain diseases to animals and humans. The tick in our area that has the ability to transmit Lyme disease is called Ixodes scapularis ("black-legged" or "deer" tick). 

These arachnid mites have three life stages; larva, nymph and adult. Their size increases from one millimeter to more than 4 to 6 mm once they are engorged with blood representing 10 to 100 times their initial weight. They have three pairs of legs in the larval stage, but will have four in the nymph and adult stages. Their color is in the range of browns more or less black, but appear gray-beige once inflated.

The geographical limit of Ixodes scapularis (IS) is not well defined, as they often travel on our migratory birds. These ticks are found in woodlands, where they wait perched in shrubby or herbaceous plants to pounce on their victim. 

They stay on their host for some time to feed using their mouth parts covered with hooks to anchor themselves to their skin. The anchoring can be done over one to two days and this dinner will be digested over 3 to 14 days. The bite is painless because the bug secretes a local analgesic. Ticks will take three meals in their lifetime and can lay 20,000 eggs per clutch.

IS is the second most common tick in the Maritime Provinces and Eastern Canada. It is also responsible for 43.3% of the transmission of Borrelia burgdorferi infection or Lyme disease to dogs and humans. 

Symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs

Lyme disease usually occurs 2 to 5 months after a tick bite. Only 5% of dogs infected with the bacteria will develop symptoms of fever, joint pain, lameness and soreness. Lyme disease can lodge in the kidneys and cause permanent damage. The diagnosis of Lyme disease is made by a simple and quick blood test in a veterinary clinic. In the event of a positive result, various tests will be recommended to check for other organ involvement and antibiotic therapy will be prescribed. Let's inspect our pet every day to confirm that no ticks have attached themselves and remove them quickly. 

PREVENTIVE MEASURES Regular inspection

Since ticks attach themselves when we enjoy outdoor walks with our dog, it is recommended that we inspect our pet after each outing by running our hand through its coat or combing it. Every corner should be checked, including the areas most likely to harbor ticks: the toes, around the ears and the armpits.


Our veterinarian may recommend an annual Lyme disease vaccine, which is a good protection for our dog, although it is not 100% effective. Other antiparasitic medications, much more effective than the vaccine, can also be administered in the form of drops to be applied to the animal or easy to chew tablets.

Collier anti-tiques

Le collier anti-tiques a une efficacité de plusieurs mois, mais reste un pesticide toxique pour tous. La plupart des colliers sont composés d’imidaclopride et de fluméthrine diffusées lentement et en continu sur notre chien. 

Treating certain symptoms

Finally, in the case of tick bites, there are several natural solutions that can be used to reduce the problems of irritation and skin redness. Some must be administered orally and others will be applied directly on the lesions. My favorite products are those of Zanimo:  COCONUT AND HEMP, OMEGA 3-6-9HEMP OIL and DERMA CARE.


Tick prevention is really the best way to protect our dog and other members of our family from diseases transmitted by this harmful parasite. Indeed, Lyme disease and Borrelia burgdorferi can affect everyone's health very seriously if they are not treated quickly. It is therefore essential to consult our veterinarian if we are unsure of the best way to deal with our pet's tick problem, but also if symptoms appear after a bite. 

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