Ticks, Disease and Our Pets

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Ticks, Disease and Our Pets

It’s that time of year again… where the sun is out, weather is warm… and we are finding ticks on our pets! Ticks aren’t just gross, they can transmit serious diseases to our pets and ourselves. While Lyme disease is very well known, it is not the only disease that can be contracted from tick bites. Ticks can also carry ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and other diseases.

What should I do?

Unfortunately there isn’t a way to tell if a tick is carrying a disease and it only takes one bite to infect your dog! Tick borne diseases are also zoonotic, meaning, human and non-canine family members can become infected with the same tick-borne diseases as dogs. If your dog spends a lot of time outdoors or goes for frequent off leash walks, a daily tick check should be part of your routine. Remove any ticks found on your pet promptly and drop them into a container with rubbing alcohol to kill them. Treating your pet with a preventative (one recommended by your veterinarian) certainly helps, but even the best repellants may not prevent ticks from attaching to your pet.

To remove a tick, either use a tick “spoon” that can be purchased at any pet store, or simply grasp the tick (don’t squeeze it) as close to the skin as possible and slowly pull straight out. There is likely to be a small, firm bump or scab where the tick was attached- this is normal and may take several days to heal. And don’t fear the “head” being left behind- ticks don’t actually have heads, they have mouthparts, and anything left behind will work its way out.

How will I know if my pet is infected?

Symptoms can be difficult to recognize and are sometimes very vague. Usually pet owners don’t know their dog is suffering from a tick disease until the symptoms are severe. Some symptoms are arthritis or lameness that may alternate from limb to limb, reluctance to move, swollen joints, fever and loss of appetite. You should bring your pet to a veterinarian immediately if any of the above symptoms are noticed.

Prevention is the best medicine!

Talk to your veterinarian about what type of prevention is available and if the Lyme vaccine is right for your pet. Remember there is no prevention or vaccine that is 100% effective so having your pet screened at least annually is important to keep them healthy!

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