The longer days and mild conditions of spring make long walks and outdoor exploration a favourite activity for many pet owners, especially in areas like Southwestern Ontario, which has lots of forests, trails and parks.
Dr. Gwen Jeun is no stranger to the perks of living in this part of the province. She’s a veterinarian at Emeryville Animal Hospital in Windsor-Essex County. On her days off, she frequents Point Pelee National Park to hike its many trails and witness spring birding season. Ganatchio Trail in Windsor is one of her favourite walking routes, with views of the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair.
With a veterinary career spanning 20 years, Dr. Jeun has experience in many areas of animal health, but she finds one area of special interest: ticks and Lyme disease. All the beauty aside, living in this picturesque part of Ontario can pose some threats to pets—it’s among the identified risk areas for Lyme disease in the province.
“Ticks and Lyme disease have been on the rise in recent years because of milder winters and heavily wooded areas surrounding the county,” says Dr. Jeun. “As a result, I have to make sure I’m constantly educating my clients on the topic. My goal is to promote more proactive prevention methods.”
Ticks become active when temperatures reach 4°C, so early preventive measures for pets are important. The hardest part about treating ticks and Lyme disease is that bites aren’t always visible, which makes regular check-ups with your veterinarian important.
“Animals can’t speak, but they will tell you everything you need to know through a physical exam,” says Dr. Jeun.
Whether you’re headed to a national park, conservation area or just playing in your backyard, experience the outdoors with your pet with peace of mind—make an appointment with your veterinarian to talk about parasite prevention. And remember, when you’re out and about, your vet is just a phone call away.
Dr. Jeun has these tips to help pet owners prevent, identify and treat ticks and Lyme disease:
- Preventive medicines, including a monthly chewable or topical skin solution, can keep ticks and fleas at bay.
- Don’t feed deer. They can carry ticks that transmit Lyme disease.
- Remove items from your yard that may act as a home for ticks such as debris, brush, weeds and leaves.
- Stay on marked paths and keep pets leashed when walking through wooded areas.
- After walks, do a full-body check of your pet and yourself for ticks, and pay extra attention to the areas around the head, neck and paws of your pet. A tick feels like a small bump on the skin. Learn what ticks look like.
- If your pet has been infected, he/she may show signs of sickness, including joint pain, fatigue, and loss of appetite.
- Remove ticks promptly to prevent the spread of disease. Learn how to properly remove ticks.
- If you suspect your pet has been infected, call your veterinarian immediately.
- If possible, keep your pet hydrated and fed, but don’t administer any medication.
Learn more about where ticks are found in Ontario and about Lyme disease.
Dr. Gwen Jeun is president of the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association. She’s been a veterinarian at Emeryville Animal Hospital for 20 years.