Beware: spring tick season has arrived

Pet owners be aware: Spring is here and so is tick season.

Pet owners be aware: Spring is here and so is tick season

While many think the tiny creatures are insects, they’re actually arachnids, like spiders and scorpions. Like spiders and scorpions, there are many different varieties of ticks. The one typically found in this area is the wood tick.

The exact timing of tick season depends on what weather has been like.

“If you get a really warm spring it will start early,” said Dr. Bill Sones of the Nakusp Veterinary clinic. “We haven’t seen a single tick yet, but it’s been a really cold spring. It has to be a certain temperature outside before things start happening.”

The main concern when it comes to ticks is the potential spread of diseases, such as Lyme disease though in this region it isn’t very common. Another disease, which is extremely rare is tick paralysis, where a tick mite causes an animal to become paralyzed.

Sones said when an owner finds a tick on their pet, there is less than a one per cent chance of harm coming to an animal because of a tick bite, though here might be a small skin infection if part of the tick is somehow left in the skin.

Most of the time it doesn’t — 99.9 per cent of the time when people find a tick on their pet there’s no harm done. There may be a slight skin infection if some tick body parts are left in the skin, though.

If a pet owner thinks they’ve found a tick on their animal, make sure it’s a tick. A lot of people phone the vet clinic thinking their pet has a tick when really it’s only a skin growth or a scab. If it has legs, it’s a tick, though you may need reading glasses or a magnifying glass in order to confirm.

To remove the tick, some kind of removal device works best. Some methods however, should just not be done.

“Things like putting oil on it, or holding a match to it, all those things are bad things,” said Dr. Laurie Page with the Nakusp Veterinary Clinic. “They just stress the tick, making it more likely to release the contents of its salivary glands. Tweezers or fingernails work, without putting too much pressure on it, and you want to get the little piece of skin with the mouth part embedded in it.”

The tick should also be pulled off instead of squeezed off. If the tick is carrying any diseases, squeezing could release the disease in to the pet.

Tick season in the area generally lasts until June.