March is Tick Awareness Month

Hello all my human readers! I am so glad that the nice weather is just around the corner – aren’t you? I miss all that sunshine. One of my favourite things is to bask in those nice warm rays of sunshine. It is so relaxing. I purr just thinking about it.

But of course, there are some other things besides sun and warmth that come out in the spring. You guessed it! BUGS. Everyone in Ontario knows about mosquitoes and fleas and the problems they cause for pets – but ticks! That’s right. They’re here!! It’s no longer a “my dog and I went South and he got them there” problem. It is now in our own back yard – literally. Ticks have been spreading north because of climate change, and they’ve also been hitching rides on migratory birds. March is TICK AWARENESS MONTH, so my mommy the veterinarian said that I had to talk about ticks today.

Did you know that that ticks cannot jump or fly? They only climb. They will hang out on grass stems, leaf litter or plants waiting for an animal or person to walk by in climbing distance. Once they get on, they crawl around until they find a good place to bite and suck blood. YUCK! Most ticks stay attached for several days – during this time, they can infect their host with some very dangerous bacteria and viruses that they carry in their saliva. In our area, we are worried about DEER TICKS, also called “black-legged ticks”, because they carry LYME DISEASE, which is transmissible to both pets AND people. Because I’m only a cat, it’s way too confusing for me to talk all about the types of ticks, their life cycles, and that deadly Lyme disease – so my mommy helped me put in hyperlinks so you can read more information about these yucky parasites and that nasty Lyme disease.

As an indoor cat, I really don’t have to worry much about ticks, because the ones that are up here in Canada right now don’t tend to hang out in houses (mom says there is one that does hang out in buildings in other parts of the world). And even my fellow felines that do go outdoors don’t have as many problems with ticks, because we are so much more into grooming ourselves than dogs are.

Sometimes when you humans find these critters on your pet, you will try to remove them. To avoid problems, ticks should be removed before they attach, and most definitely within the first day of attachment. But ticks can be stubborn and they can really hold on tight. So if you do find a tick and attempt to remove it, my mommy says you have to PROTECT yourself by wearing gloves (or use a tick removal tool). You mustn’t let any of those tick guts get on you, because most of the diseases that are carried by ticks can infect you if you handle an infected tick when you have any tiny cuts or breaks on your skin. Use a special ‘tick remover’ tool if you are going to attempt removal – and make sure to grasp it as close to the skin as possible so that you won’t tear away the body from the buried mouthparts. After you remove a tick, put it into a sealed container (even a baggie will do), and bring it to the clinic so that we can see whether or not it is a deer tick and whether you got it all out.

Humans, dogs and cats are all good hosts for ticks. So make sure to check your pets and yourself regularly. You never know where you may encounter one, so stay safe by treating your pet with a topical or oral tick prevention. Ask my human team here at Blue Cross Animal Hospital what may be best for your pet. If you find a tick on yourself, make sure to let your Family Doctor know!

Stay safe everyone! I will talk to you all soon.