While the Eastern Ontario Health Unit is warning of an influx of ticks carrying Lyme disease in this region, local veterinarians are issuing the same warning as ticks carrying Lyme disease can be more dangerous to dogs than people.
Dogs are considered to be 50 per cent more susceptible to developing Lyme disease from a tick bite than people.
“Lyme disease is definitely one of the biggest preventable disease concerns for dogs in our area,” says Dr. Devin Hunt of the Morrisburg Animal Hospital.
“We have seen a tremendous increase in the past few years of dogs reacting positive to the Lyme disease test,” said Hunt. “In years past, we would see two to three positives a year. In 2011, we saw eight. Last year we had 20.”
According to Hunt, locally, the hot-spot for dogs appears to be centred around Ingleside/Long Sault.
“To the west, we are seeing more positives west of Iroquois. The closer you get to Gananoque, the more you get,” he adds.
Also, Hunt is seeing some isolated hot-spots north of the Seaway, particularly, Newington, Lunenberg and Williamsburg.
Dogs that frequent long grass and forested areas are most at risk.
“This past year however, we have also seen a couple of positives from dogs that never leave their yard. Songbirds can literally ‘parachute’ ticks into an area,” explains Hunt.
Hunt is recommending that all dogs in the Ingleside and Long Sault area receive Lyme disease vaccine, unless their risk of exposure is extremely low (mostly inside dogs).
“Dogs spending a lot of time in the bush need to also receive tick control as there are other diseases ticks can spread other than Lyme disease such as Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis. Thankfully, both of these diseases seem to be pretty rare in our area presently,” said Hunt.
For pet owners who find a tick on their dog, they can take the tick to their veterinary clinic for identification and testing to see if it was an infected. Regular lab fees apply.
For more information on ticks and tick prevention protocols, talk to your veterinarian.