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‘It’s the right environment’: Durham vet expects more ticks as dog parks reopen

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WATCH: While dog parks throughout the province have reopened, veterinarians are warning owners about another bad tick season. The risk is particularly high in outdoor, unkempt areas. Aaron Streck reports – May 28, 2020

While dog parks throughout the province have reopened, veterinarians are warning owners about another bad tick season.

The risk is particularly high in outdoor, unkempt areas.

Harold Bidlofsky and his dog Parker are typically out at Harmony Valley Conservation Area & Off-Leash Dog Park in north Oshawa daily for a walk. They’re happy to return to that routine now that coronavirus pandemic restrictions have loosened.

“The fields are thicker and the trails are restored,” said Bidlofsky.

With that, Bidlofsky knows it’s an invitation for more mosquitoes and more ticks. Parker’s black coat makes it difficult to notice them and he’s been tagged before.

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“[It] goes with the territory. My dog, you got to understand the breed and he thrives in this environment,” said Bidlofsky.

A 4-year-old miniature schnauzer named Remy has also gotten bit.

“Every year you’re expecting ticks, so you make sure you have medication for your dogs so they don’t stay affected, but definitely have picked a couple off already this year,” said Lauren Bonin, Remy’s owner.

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Dr. Krista Nelson says she hasn’t seen as many ticks as this time last year.

“Usually they’re the big engorged 10-millimetres, really gross looking ones,” said Nelson, who has been a veterinarian for 20 years.

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But now that dogs can be back in off-leash parks and she expects to see a spike.

“It’s the right environment,” said Nelson.

Tick season is a year-long problem in Ontario.

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The black-legged tick or deer tick are the ones that carry Lyme disease.

Nelson says checking your pet is an important practice.

“Focus around the ears, in between the toes, the skin between the armpit area and around the tail, that’s where they like to hide, but you want to rub your hands over your pet’s entire body,” said Nelson.

While doing a thorough check of your pet is necessary, experts say it’s also important to check yourself.

“Ticks will hide in long grass, they can’t jump so they wait for people or animals to rub up against them,” said Laura Freeland, Durham Region Health Protection Manager.

Freeland says they’ve already been receiving calls and the region can help identify the species when residents send in pictures.

“If it’s been on you for any length of time more, than 24 hours, you should seek medical attention,” said Freeland.

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As for Bidlofsky, he says he’s not going to let ticks stop Parker from exploring the great outdoors but he says he does plan to look him over afterwards.