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The truth on ticks

March 4, 2013

Ticks are 8-legged arachnids. They are mostly found in forests and long grasses, and are most active in times of warm moist weather like spring and fall.  Ticks feed on the blood of wildlife, people and our pets.  They seek a host by perching at the tips of long grass or on leaves found on the ground.  They sit with the front legs extended, a behavior called questing. As soon as a suitable host passes by, they latch on to the host. Once there they search for a suitable place to attach themselves with their hooked mouth parts and begin to feed.


The tick’s lifecycle consists of 4 stages: egg, larva, nymph and adult.  Each stage of development the tick has to latch on to a host and feed to continue its life cycle. They will feed and then drop of into the environment, and after they drop off they mature to their next life stage and the next stage starts.  In the case of an adult female, they will feed and drop off and die after laying eggs; up to 3000 eggs.  The life cycle in some ticks can be less than 6 months or as long as three years.

There are 4 tick species seen in Canada. The Lone Star Tick, American dog Tick (or Rocky Mountain wood Tick), Deer Tick (or Blacklegged tick), and the Brown dog Tick.

The Brown dog Tick is the only tick that can complete its life cycle indoors.


Prevention and Control

You should check your dog or cat daily especially if they have been in high traffic areas for ticks. Run your fingers over their bodies. Ticks tend to like warm places like the neck, ears and paws, but you should check their entire body. Ticks can be no more than the size of a sesame seed when they first attach, but after a blood meal can be up to the size of a dime. Once a tick has been identified, proper removal is essential. There are specially designed devices in the market that can remove them, or if you’re unsure please call Peterborough West Animal Hospital, and we will assist you anyway we can.


The Deer tick is a Vector of Lyme’s Disease. So preventing the tick from biting is the main objective.  Spot on treatment like K9-Advantix is very effective in preventing this.  No biting is required for the tick to be affected by K9-Advantix, therefore reducing the risk of transmitting Lyme’s Disease.  Peterborough West Animal Hospital recommends using prevention in the months of March, April, May, and then September, October and November, when Tick populations are high.

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