Today's flea/tick/heartworm parasite feature article is about ticks, whose population in Toronto seems to have exploded over the past few years. Ticks are tiny blood-sucking insects related to spiders, and are a risk for dogs, outdoor cats…and people! Higher-risk areas for picking up ticks include High Park, Trinity Bellwoods Park, Cherry Beach, many waterfront parks, the Rouge Valley, cottage country, Kingston, and the 1000 Islands – and even your own backyard if you have long grasses!
Why do we care about protecting our pets from ticks? The ‘ick factor' alone is enough for some owners, but as veterinarians, our biggest concern is a disease – ticks transmit Lyme disease, as well as Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis, which cause blood-clotting problems and anemia.
There are now 5 species of ticks in Ontario, with the Blacklegged (Deer) Tick most well-known, since it transmits Lyme Disease. However, the recently-arrived Lone Star Tick has also gotten a lot of press since it is responsible for creating the Alpha-gal allergy in humans (also known as the red meat allergy)!
So what can you do?
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