With tick season now in play, a spa day at Barks & Recreation also means a careful check for ticks. Fortunately Ruby Jean was in the clear after a thorough inspection by groomer Rebecca Koban. However, Koban says she did remove a tick from a dog on Monday, so she encourages pet owners to check for the small bugs each day. Sheri Regnier photo

Open season on ticks in Trail

There is usually an uptick in tick bites as weather warms and more time is spent outdoors

Rebecca Koban has already removed one tick from a furry client this spring.

So the seasoned Trail groomer reminds pets owners to check their dogs and cats for the bloodsuckers daily now that weather is warming and more time is being spent outdoors.

Begin by brushing your fingers through the fur and applying enough pressure to feel any small bumps. Be sure to check between your dog’s toes, behind ears, under armpits and around the tail and head, too. If you do feel a bump, pull the fur apart to see what’s there.

Embedded ticks vary in size depending on how long it has been attached. However, they usually are black or dark brown in color and turn a greyish-white after feeding, in what’s called the engorged state.

When a tick is found on a person or pet, removal is important.

Interior Health (IH) has a series of “what to do” guidelines for removal from humans and animal, which begins with wearing gloves.

That’s because wood ticks (Dermacentor andersoni), the species most commonly found through the Interior Health region, do not carry the Lyme disease bacteria – but they can carry other diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Needle nose tweezers are recommended to gently grasp the tick close to the skin. IH then advises to pull the tick straight out without squeezing it.

After it is removed, clean the area with soap and water.

Although most tick bites are typically harmless, it is important to watch for signs of illness and see a doctor as soon as possible if a bull’s eye rash emerges or other symptoms such as fever, headache and muscle pain develop.

Like many illnesses, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to tick-related diseases.

IH recommends walking on cleared trails when in tall grass or wooded areas, covering up with light-coloured clothing to help spot ticks, tucking pant legs into socks or boots, and applying insect repellent containing DEET on uncovered skin.

To help keep ticks away from homes and yard, lawns should be kept short and fallen leaves and weeds removed.

Ixodes ticks (Ixodes pacificus or Ixodes angustus) are the species that transmit Lyme disease. They are more common throughout coastal B.C. but may be present in some Interior Health areas. While less than one per cent of Ixodes in B.C. carry Lyme disease, it is important to recognize the symptoms. In addition to a fever, headache, and muscle pain, people infected with Lyme disease will often develop a rash that looks like a “bull’s eye” target which expands from the site of the tick bite.

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