This little creature is the blacklegged tick, also known to many as the deer tick.
The photo that you see here is not to scale, if only it were this easy to spot them coming. Rather, the majority of unfed ticks in the wild are a mere 1-5 mm in length. This makes them incredibly difficult to spot as they lay in waiting on blades of long grass or low bushes for the next host to walk past.
Ticks feed on the blood of their carrier. They are incredibly slow moving creatures and once they have come into contact with their host it can take them hours to find a good place to affix to. Not only do they begin very small, but they also have a typically painless bite, which makes it hard to know if you’ve been chosen as prey until the pest is already engorged.
Closely related to spiders, the parasitic tick gives you another reason to dislike arachnids.
The reason that ticks are problematic is that in rare cases one might be carrying a borrelia bacteria, which cause Lyme Disease.
It’s not just humans that can contract Lyme Disease, and quite often it is our canine family members who find the ticks first. Dogs are lower to the ground, don’t wear pants, and an easy victim while on walks through wooded or longer-grassed areas.
Ticks that carry Lyme Disease are present across Canada, and that includes all of Southern Ontario and an infection in your dog can lead to joint inflammation, lameness and kidney damage. In the majority of cases, a regimen of antibiotics as an outpatient for several weeks will suffice for treatment, but sometimes damage is permanent and certain symptoms may remain with your dog, such as joint pain.
Check with your veterinarian today to find out how to best prevent your dog from getting Lyme Disease.
For more information and an early diagnosis of Lyme Disease, see here:
For more information on Lyme Disease in humans, visit the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation at canlyme.com.