Tick Prevention for Your Pet

Ticks are small arachnids (cousins of spiders) that live in tall grass, woods, prairies and off leash areas.  They are a parasite of dogs, cats, other mammals and birds. They embed in the animal’s skin and suck their blood.  Not all ticks carry Lyme disease.

Historically we have not had to worry about Lyme disease in Calgary.  Unfortunately,  the tick that can carry Lyme disease can now be found in southern Alberta.

Ticks have a bloom (become plentiful) in May/June and sometimes another in August.  Moist weather can bring new species of ticks to an area. If you and your pet have been to a high risk area (long grasses, woods, prairies, or off leash areas), check your pet for ticks by combing and running your hands through their fur. It’s best to do this within 4-6 hours after possible exposure  Ticks will usually attach themselves around the head, ears, neck, and feet, but can attach elsewhere.

Female ticks can engorge themselves with up to 100 times their bodyweight in blood. After ticks have had a blood meal, they fall off and lay eggs in the grass. A female can lay up to 3000 eggs.

Tick prevention is a good idea for your pet if you will be exercising in high risk areas.  The Preventic Tick collar, topical medications and topical pesticides are some options.  There is a vaccine for Lyme disease.   Talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s potential risks.

You can remove ticks at home or bring your pet into your Horizon Veterinarian. To remove a tick, grasp it by the head close to the skin with tweezers and gently pull until the head pops out.  Look for the Tick Twister at the pet store. The site may be red, scabby, and inflamed. If an inflamed area doesn’t go away within a week, contact any of our Horizon Hospitals as it may be infected.

We can send it away to the Government of Alberta Animal Health Division for testing to see if a tick has Lyme disease.  There is no charge for this service, so if possible, bring the tick into any of our 4 Horizon Hospitals and if the results are positive for Lyme we will contact you to discuss the possible concerns to your pet. 

Have a great, tick free summer!


Article by:  The McKenzie Towne Team