As you’re preparing for your next big camping trip or a leisurely walk in one of Vancouver’s many parks, you’re probably not thinking much about ticks – but you should be.

Tick bites can cause severe illness in people and pets, with the latter often requiring treatment at an animal clinic.

Many people aren’t aware, but with our mild climate, ticks are active in the Vancouver area almost year-round. As long as the weather stays above freezing, ticks can survive. However, with warmer weather and longer summers, ticks have become more common and reports of bites more frequent.

Tick bites themselves are relatively harmless; odds are, you won’t even feel it. However, ticks carry several potentially dangerous diseases, including Lyme Disease, which can infect both people and animals, particularly dogs.

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Not only are tick bites virtually painless they are also very difficult to spot. On people, a raised “bullseye” may appear at the bite site, but not always. If your dog has been bitten and the tick has since been removed or fallen off, you might notice a small, raised bump.

However, in many cases where an embedded tick isn’t found in time, symptoms of illness are the first sign of a tick bite. Common symptoms to watch out for include fever, poor appetite, lethargy, and swollen lymph nodes. If you notice these symptoms in your dog, you need to visit an animal clinic as soon as possible; if you can locate the tick, use tweezers to remove it, seal it in a jar, and bring it with you, your vet may want to have it sent away for testing.

Ways you Can Help Keep Pets Safe from Ticks

Now that you know what to be on the lookout for, here are a few ways you can help avoid ticks while enjoying nature.

Talk to Your vet About Preventative Tick Treatment Options

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; the best way to keep your dog safe from ticks is to use a tick treatment.

Oral medications are available at any Vancouver area animal clinic, given monthly they protect from both fleas and ticks. You can also ask about tick dips – a diluted chemical applied monthly to your pup’s fur.

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If medication is not your preference, you can also consider tick collars, specialty shampoos, and tick sprays.

Check Your Pet Thoroughly

Anytime you come in from a trek outdoors where encounters with ticks are possible – areas with tall grass, shrubs, or wooded areas – check your pet for ticks. Ticks generally like to hunker down in places where they won’t be disturbed. For dogs, examine between their toes, at the base of their tail, and all around the collar, eyes, and the inside area of their legs.

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If you find a tick, it’s critical to remove it right away. Clean the area with alcohol, then use a pair of tweezers to grab the tick as close to the head as possible and pull. Do not squeeze the tick’s body as this can release infected blood. Submerge the tick in a jar with rubbing alcohol and take your dog and the tick into your local Vancouver animal clinic.

Keep An Eye on Your Surroundings 

Understanding a tick’s preferred habitat can help you prevent tick encounters. Ticks generally like to live in areas with tall grass, dense shrubs, and wooded areas. However, this isn’t limited to backcountry hiking or deep wood camping; ticks can live in overgrown backyards, along heavily trafficked walking paths, and in areas with lots of shade and moisture.

With a little diligence, you can help your pet out of an animal clinic this summer!