PEI

Vets urge P.E.I. dog owners to check for ticks

The cooler weather may have some dog owners thinking they can ease back on flea and tick treatments for their animals.

Ticks, fleas can be more plentiful in the fall, says veterinarian

Because ticks usually hide in the long grass, veterenarians suggest checking first around a dog's face, ears, chest, and legs. (CBC)

The cooler weather may have some pet owners thinking they can ease back on flea and tick treatments for their animals.

But veterinarians on P.E.I. have the opposite message.

"People tend to forget fall comes and people kind of get lazy with their flea medications and their parasite prevention cause they kind of figure, 'oh fall's here everything is slowing down,' whereas we do see a bigger turnover of ticks and fleas in the fall of the year," said Priscilla Ellis of the West Prince Veterinary Service.

Ellis said the insects are most active in the spring and the fall, and numbers have been up, according to several P.E.I. clinics.

Ticks and fleas are most active in the spring and the fall, and numbers have been up this year, according to several P.E.I. clinics. (CDC)

Ellis worries that with more ticks, will come more Lyme disease.  Her clinic has already had one confirmed case.

"We have had other suspected cases and we have had a lot of people coming in with ticks on their dogs this summer and people calling because there are ticks on their dogs. So we know there's tons of ticks out there, so we would suspect that Lyme disease is going to become more prevalent for sure as time goes on."

We know there's tons of ticks out there so we would suspect that Lyme disease is going to become more prevalent for sure as time goes on.- Priscilla Ellis

Ellis encourages people to check their dogs regularly, but there are areas that would be more likely to be hiding the pest.

"Ticks usually hide in the long grass so it would be the first part of the animal that would come in contact with them, would be like the face, around the ears, front of the chest, the legs, so check those areas first," she said

Watch for something that looks much like a skin tag, a small creature that is gray in colour, she said.

As for symptoms, the most common is lameness in the limbs — it can often switch between limbs — loss of appetite and weight. If you are worried about ticks, Ellis suggests seeing your vet to discuss your dog's habits and risks and they can come up with a course of action best suited to your dog.

Lyme disease rare in cats

What about outdoors cats, you may wonder?

Lyme disease is very rare in cats, Ellis said, but you still need to protect them against ticks and fleas as they can pick up other diseases.

And for us humans, P.E.I.'s  public health office said there are no confirmed cases of Lyme disease so far in 2016. There were two potential cases that were not lab confirmed which were linked to out of province exposure.