If protecting your pet from tick-borne diseases hasn’t made it on to your list this year, you may want to reconsider. Data from the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) shows that Lyme and other tick-borne diseases are a threat to your pet at all times of the year and all over the United States. Know the risk in your region and be alert when tick-borne illnesses pop up in your area. If and when pets bring ticks into your home, they could be carrying infectious bacteria that puts your family at risk for contracting a tick-borne illness. Protecting your pet keeps your human family members safe, too!
How Ticks Live
Here is a simple breakdown of how ticks live from start to finish:
- Ticks begin as eggs, the eggs hatch, a larvae is developed from the hatched egg and a nymph is formed.
- In order to gain strength and grow, ticks must feed on smaller animals.
- As adults, ticks have come up with many tricks to feed on larger animals to keep them nice and satisfied. It is in this stage when you see ticks sitting on the tip of tall grass, long plants or anything that will give them a chance to hop onto an animal or human.
- Ticks use their senses when an animal or person is approaching and they “wave” their legs so they can sense when the animal is close and be ready to jump on.
- Now it’s their mission to attach to the animal’s skin and feed on their blood.
- The harm comes if you or your pet is bitten by a tick infected with disease-causing bacteria. If harmful bacteria is present, then transmission begins after the bite. If no bacteria is present your pet will not contract a disease, but the tick should be removed promptly.
Three Main Types of Tick-Borne Diseases
Lyme, Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis are the most common forms. Here is a breakdown of each:
Lyme is transmitted when a tick carrying the Lyme bacteria bites a human or animal. It only takes 24-48 hours for the bacteria to start moving through different parts of the body and cause problems in various organs, in joints, making the person or animal feel sick overall. The most common carrier of the Lyme bacteria is the Blacklegged tick (aka the deer tick or the bear tick) and the Western Blacklegged Tick. These ticks are prominently found in the northeast, mid-Atlantic, north-central and pacific coast regions of the United States. Dogs infected with Lyme will have a fever, are lethargic, have swollen joints, limping that comes and goes, and more.
Ehrlichiosis is transferred from ticks that carry the E. canis bacteria, which are found primarily in the southeast and eastern parts of the United States. Watch out for those Lone Star Ticks! Dogs infected with Ehrlichiosis will generally have a fever, respiratory issues, weight loss, and more.
Anaplasmosis is transferred from ticks with a bacteria called A. phagocytophilum or A. platys, and it only takes 12-24 hours for this bacteria to start spreading throughout the body. Watch out for the Blacklegged Tick and Western Blacklegged Tick. Dogs infected with Anaplasmosis will show signs of lameness, fever, and will not have an appetite.
There are ways to help prevent your pet from contracting a tick-borne disease. We recommend the following:
- Use broad spectrum prevention every 30 days as directed on the package. Medication in this realm protects your pet against a variety of pests, including ticks, fleas and more. Consult your veterinarian to determine the best option for your pet. Medications available now are very effective in protecting your pet.
- Get a Lyme vaccine for your dog. It’s another layer of protection for your dog’s immune system should they be bitten by an infected tick. A Lyme vaccine has not been developed for cats at this time so we recommend giving cats a monthly broad spectrum preventative in order to keep them safe.
- If your pet spends time outdoors then check them daily for ticks. This is especially important after a hike or after your pet has run through tall grass or brush. Those little guys can burrow quickly, so make it a priority to remove them from your pet before they are too hard to find in your pet’s fur.
Get Your Dog Tested
VetIQ Petcare Wellness Centers offer a simple blood test that looks for the presence of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, as well as heartworm disease. Results will show whether or not your dog has been exposed to common tick-borne diseases and not necessarily that your pet has an infection. If your pet tests positive keep an eye out for the common symptoms listed above and call your full-service veterinarian for follow up. We do not offer testing for cats.
Our veterinarians will be happy to answer any questions you have about Lyme disease during your visit! For more information about Lyme disease and pet health, refer to our website at www.vetiqpetcare.com.