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Ticks, Ticks, Ticks! What You Need To Know

Pests and Parasites

Dog with big stick in its mouth running from a lake

March 12

Ticks and 4DX Testing 2021

The weather is warming and the ticks are swarming. It’s time to get your dog on their tick preventive.

Tick Diseases and Your Dog

Ticks carry many diseases. The three most dangerous are Lyme Disease, Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichia.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease can cause severe lameness, moving between your dog’s joints. It can also cause severe, possibly fatal kidney disease. Once a dog or person gets Lyme disease they have it for life, and any repeat infection can make the disease much, much worse. This possibility of re-infection is one of the reasons we need to test your dog for Lyme annually using the 4DX test. If we know your dog has already been infected we can take extra measures to prevent any re-infection. Infected dogs cannot directly pass Lyme to a person or other dog. The bacteria must pass through a tick to be transmitted to another host.

Ehrlichia & Anaplasmosis

Ticks also carry two other serious diseases, both of which are on the increase: Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichia. Ehrlichia can prevent your dog’s blood from clotting. Anaplasmosis organisms invade red blood cells and cause severe anemia.

How Can I Protect My Dog?

  • Have a 4DX blood test done, to be sure your dog doesn’t have an existing infection.

  • Start your dog on a tick preventative medication as soon as the temperature is over 3C, which means starting now. Keep them on the preventive until the temperature no longer goes above 3C, which is usually late November or December.

  • We can discuss Lyme vaccination for dogs in our care that are going to the most high-risk area such as the Rouge valley or Long Point.

  • Even with these precautions check your dog all over every day.

  • If you find a tick remove it with a Tick Twister as soon as you can.


    The longer the tick is attached, the more likely it is to infect your pet.


    Ticks have evolved some clever tricks to become such successful parasites. They have local anesthetic in their saliva so we don’t feel them bite, and they have an adhesive that cements them in after they do bite. We recommend using a Tick Twister to remove the tick. Twisting the tick out with this little tool will help you get the head parts out. It is possible to use tweezers and pull straight out, but you need to get under the head and make sure you get the whole tick, which can be difficult with fur. Done wrong, the tick will regurgitate as you pull on it and potentially deposit infection into your pet’s bloodstream.

The 4DX Test

The 4DX test tests your dog for existing Lyme Disease, Anaplasmosis, and Ehrlichia and Heartworm infections. We recommend all dogs have a 4DX test done this year and every year to check for existing tick-based infections. In 2021, the test is required before we can prescribe Heartworm preventives.

Avoid having to come back for the 4DX test and to collect your dog’s Heartgard: Call and book your test today. We can dispense both tick and heartworm medication at the same time.

All 4DX testing will be by appointment only for 2021. Appointments for 4DX testing will be available from 11-4 Monday to Friday and on Saturdays 9-5. (Note that this differs from previous years when we had walk-in policy for 4DX testing. We can’t currently offer this service due to the curbside restrictions.)

To book your 4DX Testing appointment call 416-469-1121, option 4, or email us:

Make an Appointment

How To Get Your Tick Medication

All tick medication must be requested through our medication line. A veterinarian will review your file and a team member will call when the prescription is ready. They will arrange for payment and set up an appointment for you to collect the medications. AII medication pick-ups are by appointment only as we continue to take precautions against COVID.

You can request your tick medication by calling our Medication Request line at 416-469-1121, option 3.

Heartworm is Still a Serious Problem

Heartworm continues to be a risk for Toronto dogs. It is established in the resident coyote population, giving it a local source. Also, there are rescue groups bringing dogs to Toronto from parts of the world where Heartworm is endemic. It only takes one mosquito biting an infected coyote or dog and then your dog to pass on the parasite. As always we recommend testing and prevention. The test we now recommend for Heartworm is the same one we use to test for tick-borne diseases: the 4DX Test.

Due to the COVID restrictions in the spring of 2020, most of our dog patients had to skip their 4DX test. This year we will require a test prior to dispensing the Heartworm and intestinal Parasite Medication Heartgard.

To book your 4DX Testing appointment call 416-469-1121, option 4, or email us:

Make an Appointment

What About Cats?

Even though cats are fastidious groomers ticks can still attach and feed. Black-Legged Ticks, the ones spreading Lyme disease, tend to attach around cats’ head and neck. American Dog Ticks tend to like cats’ ears.

It is not clear whether cats get Lyme disease but they can be infected with the bacteria that causes it. Cats also are susceptible to other tick-borne diseases. Cytauxzoon felis is spread by the Brown Dog Tick. This disease causes fever, enlarged lymph nodes, anorexia, jaundice and in some cases can be fatal. The disease is not established in Canada yet, but it is in the US and likely to spread north into any tick-infested areas.

If your cat goes outside, even if it’s just in the backyard, check them all over when they come in. If you find a tick, remove it with a Tick Twister as described above.

Just as with our dogs, preventing ticks from feeding on our cats helps protect people too. There is less likelihood of inadvertent tick exposure from your pet if they are on a preventative.

For our cats that go outdoors, we are recommending Revolution, which also targets fleas.

If your cat has had a wellness exam within the last year, you can call and order Revolution, and we will call you when it comes in. If we have not seen your kitty within the last year, they will need to have a check-up before we can prescribe Revolution for them.

Request Revolution For Your Cat