Alberta vet clinic issues warning after 2 dogs treated for 100 ticks

The Camrose Veterinary Hospital in central Alberta is warning pet owners after treating two dogs with 100 or more ticks.

'We've seen an increasing amount of ticks every year,' Camrose veterinarian says

Two dogs that had recently visited Saskatchewan had to have dozens of ticks removed. (Facebook)

The Camrose Veterinary Hospital in central Alberta is warning pet owners after treating two dogs with "100 ticks or more."

A post to the vet clinic's Facebook page shows the blood suckers around the dogs' eyes and reminds people of the importance of tick prevention.

"These pooches had a nice vacation in Saskatchewan this last weekend, and unfortunately brought home some passengers!" the clinic said in a Facebook post. "We guesstimate 100 ticks or more!" 

Dr. Jamie Whiting said the dogs picked up the ticks while they were outside in the grass and trees.

"The owners hadn't discovered them immediately and then once they did see them they wanted some assistance in removing them," Whiting said.

According to Whiting, ticks are a growing problem.

"We've seen an increasing amount of ticks every year and we tend to see them maybe a little earlier in the season than we have in the past," he said.

Like humans, dogs can contract Lyme disease from ticks but it can be difficult to diagnose.

"Dogs that get bit by a Lyme-positive tick may not show any signs," said Whiting. "You may see signs of it affecting their kidneys, possibly some lethargy, but it's not as distinctive as, say, in people where they get the skin lesions."

'You don't want to twist it or crush it'

Pet owners can remove the tiny arachnids themselves if they feel comfortable doing it.

"Grab the tick very close to the skin, by the head, grab the mouth parts and then pull it out, you don't want to twist it or crush it if at all possible," said Whiting.

"If they don't feel comfortable doing then I would talk to your local vet and have them remove it."

There are a couple of ways to prevent pets from getting ticks.

"We would probably recommend most dogs — all dogs that are going to be outside any amount — should be on a tick preventative," said Whiting.

"There's many different forms of flea and tick preventative that can either be applied topically along their back, usually monthly, or there are some kind of chewable tablets that can also help prevent ticks and every one to three months they can be used."

Tick surveillance program

Whiting also encourages pet owners who have removed ticks to send them in to the provincial tick surveillance program. 

"We submit them to Alberta Health Services and then they will identify the type of tick it is, and then if it's a black-legged tick that potentially can cause Lyme disease, they will then test it to see if it has the bacteria that can cause Lyme disease."

About the Author

Scott Stevenson

Journalist

Scott Stevenson is a journalist with CBC Edmonton. He has worked in the news industry in Alberta for nearly 20 years, including 10 years with Alberta's other public broadcaster, CKUA. He has also worked in newsrooms in Calgary, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Cold Lake. Share your stories with Scott at scott.stevenson@cbc.ca.