Plenty of pet guardians are used to checking their companion animals for ticks in the summertime, particularly after camping or hiking in British Columbia’s beautiful outdoors. But it’s just as important to check them in the winter months, says BC SPCA Kamloops and District Branch animal care attendant Valerie Wilson, a fact highlighted by a cat who came into the Kamloops shelter as a stray – along with nine live ticks.
“It’s not just dogs who are susceptible, and it’s not just in the summer,” Wilson says. “We discovered and removed nine living ticks from the cat, who earned the name Ticker, during his initial exam. We believe he was living in a chicken coop, and I guess it just hasn’t been cold enough to kill them off.”
Ticks are external parasites that feed off the blood of hosts, including humans, dogs and cats. Tick bites and tickborne diseases, such as Lyme disease, can be hard to detect, and signs of tickborne disease may not appear for seven to 21 days or longer after a tick bite, notes veterinarian and BC SPCA senior manager of animal health Dr. Emilia Gordon.
“Watch your pet closely for changes in behaviour or appetite or for any unusual illness such as fever, lameness, lethargy, bruising or bleeding if you suspect he’s been bitten by a tick,” Gordon says. “It’s also important to properly remove the tick, or to have it properly removed, to help prevent any disease or infection.”
• Check your pets daily for ticks, especially if they spend time outdoors
• If you find a tick on your pet, remove it or have it removed by your veterinarian right away
• Ask your vet to do a tick check at each exam
• Talk to your vet about tickborne diseases in your area
• Reduce tick habitat in your yard
• Talk with your veterinarian about using tick preventatives on your pet
Ticker, who is on a course of antibiotics as a preventative measure and awaiting neuter surgery, is available for adoption in Kamloops and is now, of course, tick-free.
Other parasites, such as fleas and lice, can also be problematic for pets and humans if not properly addressed, Wilson adds.
“Unlike lice, which are species-specific, fleas and ticks don’t discriminate – they’ll latch onto anything with a heartbeat.”