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Though it may not seem like a concern yet, veterinarians are letting pet owners know once it hits zero degrees, ticks can come out in full force.

March is Tick Awareness Month, Winkler veterinarian Dr. Kate Gardiner explains ticks carry harmful diseases and "tick season" is much longer than some may realize.

"I want to stress to people how long the season is because a lot of people think it's just the summer months, they believe six months is often enough. If your pet is out and about, even if they're in short grass, they can still pick up ticks; they're still at risk and often the season is nine months long."

Gardiner notes taking precautions is proactive instead of reactive; if a dog begins to show signs of Lyme disease, it's often too late.

Lyme disease, if not caught quickly has detrimental health effects for an animal. Gardiner explains the two most common conditions Lyme disease causes is polyarthritis, which is arthritis of multiple joints and can lead to severe lameness; the other is kidney diseases.

"With kidney disease, you often don't know your dog has kidney disease until they've lost 70 percent of their kidney function, that's when they start showing signs. Kidney disease is not reversible."

If not caught quickly, Gardiner says kidney disease is fatal.

Gardiner says treating a pet for ticks isn't only for their benefit but the owner as well, she says a person can't contract Lyme from their dog, but it could potentially bring hitchhikers into your home. Veterinarians offer oral medications that cause the arachnids to die after biting; this will prevent them from falling off inside your home.

Ticks of all kinds have the potential to carry Lyme disease; however, it is the black-legged ticks (deer ticks) that are the most likely culprit Gardiner says. She adds the reason why physically removing ticks from your pet isn't reliable protection is because of the tick nymphs, which are the size of a sesame seed and easily missed.

Gardiner encourages pet owners to visit their local veterinarian and ask about tick preventatives, as the weather can quickly turn in the ticks favour.

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