Plenty of pet guardians are used to checking their companion animals for ticks in the summertime, particularly after camping or hiking in British Columbia’s beautiful outdoors. But it’s just as important to check them in the winter months, says BC SPCA Kamloops and District Branch animal care attendant Valerie Wilson, a fact highlighted by a cat that came into the Kamloops shelter as a stray – along with nine live ticks.
“It’s not just dogs who are susceptible, and it’s not just in the summer,” Wilson says. “We discovered and removed nine living ticks from the cat, who earned the name Ticker, during his initial exam. We believe he was living in a chicken coop, and I guess it just hasn’t been cold enough to kill them off.”
Ticks are external parasites that feed off the blood of unlucky hosts, including humans, dogs and cats. Tick bites and tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease, can be hard to detect, and signs of tick-borne disease may not appear for seven to 21 days or longer after a tick bite, notes veterinarian and BC SPCA senior manager of animal health Dr. Emilia Gordon.
“Watch your pet closely for changes in behaviour or appetite or for any unusual illness such as fever, lameness, lethargy, bruising or bleeding if you suspect he’s been bitten by a tick,” Gordon says. “It’s also important to properly remove the tick, or to have it properly removed, to help prevent any disease or infection.”
Steps pet guardians can take:
• Check your pets daily for ticks, especially if they spend time outdoors
• If you find a tick on your pet, remove it or have it removed by your veterinarian right away
• Ask your vet to conduct a tick check at each exam
• Talk to your vet about tick-borne diseases in your area
• Reduce tick habitat in your yard
• Talk with your veterinarian about using tick preventatives on your pet