Well, 2019 was quite the tick year! Although we have been pretty quiet on the blog, it's not because it was a slow tick year, it's because we've been buried in ticks! The Canadian Pet Tick Survey has already resulted in over 1500 individual submissions totalling more than 4000 ticks. And it's still going! We hope to have some more results to share by the summer as the studying will be ongoing until the end of March. A huge thank you to all the clinics who are participants and the pet owners who have submitted ticks!
The Pet Tick Tracker had its fair share of submissions, too. Overall, we received 632 submissions from across Canada, which is up from last year's 513 submissions. The majority (501) were from Ontario. This does not mean that ticks are not found in other provinces, but rather is a reflection of where most of our followers live.
Here are the final 2019 Pet Tick Tracker maps:
You may notice that there are lots of ticks marked 'Other'. Most of these were submitted without an identification or photo, so we have no way of knowing the species identification. In case you're considering submitting, it's important to attach a photo as it provides us with a mechanism to validate our findings.
Of our submissions, the majority were from dogs, with just over 50 (~8%) from cats and only a handful from horses.
Based on the data that we received, we only have a big enough pool of data to look at trends in Ontario. Here's a summary of some of these Ontario findings below.
The majority of tick species were blacklegged ticks and American dog ticks, which are the two most common ticks in the province. We only received a handful of lone star ticks. This is reassuring. It is common to have a few submissions each year since they can hitchhike on migratory birds. Our data does not show any evidence that the risk has increased for this tick species in Ontario at this time.
The other exotic tick species we did see was the Brown dog tick. These ticks can be introduced on dogs via travel from a more tropical area. All the submissions we received had a history of travel, most frequently as international rescues. This is a good reminder to make sure that if you are travelling with your dog or thinking of rescuing internationally, to think about the different health risks, including ticks, and speak with your veterinarian in advance on what preventative measures you should take.
Our submissions followed a typical seasonal pattern, which coincides with known peak tick activity. Both adult blacklegged ticks and American dog ticks are active in the spring, and this was a highest time for submissions. Adult blacklegged ticks are also active again fall, which is reflected in our high numbers in October and November.
A big thank you to everyone who submitted ticks through the Pet Tick Tracker. You are helping us track tick populations in Canada, which is important for the health of our pets and us!