Veterinarians in Peterborough and Northumberland County say ticks are already active in the region.
Although this week’s winter blast doesn’t make it feel like spring, last month’s warm spell helped the tick population grow.
“As soon as temperatures hit 4 C we know that ticks are active and they’re looking for a meal,” said Kristy Hiltz, a veterinarian at Sherbrooke Heights Animal Hospital in Peterborough.
Hiltz said some owners are already bringing their tick-infected pets to the vet. The blood-sucking parasites require a host animal to survive and reproduce.
“Ordinarily it’s fairly easy to see our adult ticks as they become engorged,” she said.
“The challenge is finding them through heavy fur, and finding them when they’re not in the engorged state because they are quite small.”
D.J. Evans at Paulmac’s Pet store in Peteborough says there are a number of treatments available for ticks.
“The spot-on treatments are probably your most effective,” he said. “You put it on the back of the shoulder blades; you part the hair — a little bit on their hind quarters. Each cartridge does 30 days. We have sprays as well, they kill on contact.”
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Hiltz also advises owners to check themselves for ticks.
“You’re the person who’s walking that dog, so do tick checks on yourself,” she said. “Tucking your pants into your socks, wearing long clothing — these are all things that people can do to reduce the risk to themselves as well.”
Left untreated, Hiltz says ticks can expose people to Lyme disease, which causes chronic pain, fatigue and depression.