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Tick Prevention & Removal
Dangers of Tick Bites
Tick bites themselves cause little harm, but the true danger of ticks is their ability to transmit disease. Most tick bites cause no lasting damage unless a disease is transmitted in the process. The most commonly transmitted disease by ticks in Alberta is Lyme disease, which can cause fever, lameness, swollen joints and lymph nodes, and lethargy.
How to Avoid Ticks
- Be on high alert during spring and summer. Warm, rainy weather is ideal for ticks.
- Avoid walking through heavily wooded areas.
- If you’re walking your pet in a grassy or wooded area, stick to the cleared trails.
- Clear your yard of long grass, brush, and woodpiles.
- Protect yourself by wearing clothing that covers your skin. This includes long sleeves and pant legs as well as hats. Bug spray with DEET also helps to deter ticks.
Detecting Tick Bites
Always check your pets for ticks after walks or when bringing them in from outside. Ticks can be almost too small to see when they first get on your pet and before they have attached and gorged with blood, so look carefully when inspecting your pet. You can use a comb to more easily spot ticks that may have attached to your pet. The sooner these ticks are discovered, the less chance they have of transmitting harmful bacteria.
What to do When Bitten
If you discover a tick that has bitten your pet, follow these instructions from Alberta Health to remove it safely:
- Using tweezers, gently grasp its head and mouth parts as close to the skin as possible.
- Without squeezing the tick, slowly pull the tick straight up off the skin – do not jerk or twist it.
- Do not apply matches, cigarettes or petroleum jelly to the tick.
- Once the tick has been removed, clean the bite area with soap and water and disinfect the area with an antiseptic. Wash hands with soap and water.
- Save the tick in a clean, empty container. Do not add any ventilation holes to the container that is being used to put the tick(s) in. You can put more than one tick in the container if they are found on the same person or animal in the same general area in the environment.
- Add a small piece of tissue or cotton ball, lightly moistened with water, into the container to prevent the tick(s) from drying out.
- Submit the tick for testing as soon as possible.
Tick surveillance and submission is crucial to tracking the spread of ticks carrying harmful diseases and allows the government to inform us of outbreaks and high-risk areas. If you are uncomfortable or unable to remove the tick yourself, contact your veterinarian for removal, though the earlier a tick is removed the less chance it has to cause infection.