It is that time of year again to beware of parasite “hitch-hicker’s”, otherwise known as TICKS.
Ticks hangout on long blades of grass or vegetation and wait patiently to grab a hold of an unsuspecting victim passing by, such as your pet.
There are 2 main types of Ticks: 1. A Soft-Tick with a raisin-like appearance or 2. A Hard-Tick with hard flat beetle-like shell and spider-like legs. Ticks can range in colour from black, dark brown to grey-white. Ticks can be roughly 1cm or smaller in size, depending on species, gender and if they have fed recently. Ticks can spend up to 2-4 days on your pet before finding a place to bite and feed.
Ticks can carry more than one disease and pass it to your pet with only one bite. Pets may or may not show signs they have contracted a Tick Borne Diseases but annual testing during your visits to the veterinarian and taking preventative measures are recommended. It is always a good idea to make sure to physically check your pet for ticks regularly, especially after being exposed to a wooded area, fields or long grass.
Some of the diseases ticks carry, or otherwise known as Tick Borne Diseases can be transmitted to people and are considered what we call Zoonotic. Here is a break down of Tick Borne Disease:
1. LYME DISEASE
Lyme disease is a zoonotic disease that is transmitted by deer ticks (black-legged tick) and causes an infection of tissue. Mild cases cause lameness, depression, anorexia and severe cases can cause kidney failure or even death. Symptoms may not appear for months, be on and off, or they may not show not at all. In people a “bulls-eye” type lesion will appear at the site of the bite. The Deer Tick can be found in the US, Canada, Northeastern, Mid-Atlantic and North Central States and California.
There are 3 species of Ehrlichia: E. Ewingii and E. Chaffeensis are transmitted by the Lone Star Tick and are zoonotic to people. These diseases cause blood infections, symptoms range from lethargy, lameness, anorexia, depression, nose bleeds and runny eyesnose. E. Canis is transmitted to dogs by the Brown Dog Tick; this affects blood cell production and can affect bone marrow function. Ehrlichiosis can be found in Canada, US Gulf Coast, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Kansas.
There are 3 species of Ehrlichia, E. Ewingii and E. Chaffeensis are transmitted by the lone star tick and are zoonotic to people. These diseases cause blood infections, symptoms range from lethargy, lameness, anorexia, depression, nose bleeds and runny eyes/nose. E. Canis is transmitted to dogs by the brown dog tick; this affects blood cell production and can affect bone marrow function. Ehrlichiosis can be found in Canada, US Gulf Coast, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Kansas.
There are 2 species of Anaplasma: A. phagocytophilum is transmitted by the Deer Tick (Black-Legged Tick) which causes an infection of white blood cells and is zoonotic to people. A. Platys are transmitted to dogs by the brown dog tick which affects the platelets and leads to bleeding disorders. Other symptoms include anorexia, lethargy, lameness, neck pain and neurological problems. Anaplasmosis can be found In Canada, US Northeastern, Mid-Atlantic, North-Central States, California, Gulf Coast and Southwestern States.
4. ROCKY MOUNTAIN SPOTTED FEVER
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is transmitted by the American Dog Tick and Lone Star Tick. This disease has a sudden onset in dogs and if left untreated can result in death. This zoonotic disease presents as a rash in people only. Symptoms dogs may exhibit include stiffness, trouble walking and neurological difficulties. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can be found in the US, Canada and the Rocky Mountain States.
If a tick is found on your pet, visit your veterinarian to have it removed. Ticks embed their mouth parts under the skin to stay firmly attached while feeding. Ticks can be removed carefully with tweezers but it is a delicate procedure, caution must be taken to remove the mouth parts or an allergic reaction can result. You can also inquire about purchasing a “Tick Removal Tool” and a demonstration on how to use it at our Brampton emergency veterinary hospital.
Ticks can be identified and tested for Tick Borne Diseases that may have been transmitted to your pet. There are parasite prevention medications that can only be prescribed by your veterinarian to help protect your pet. Though there are over-the-counter ‘medications’ available at places like Walmart or pet stores, these methods of prevention have caused some serious toxic reactions in pets. To avoid a trip to the veterinarian for choosing the wrong medication, do it right from the start.
Check your pet for ticks on a regular basis, by gently pushing the fur backward with your hand, also checking ears, paws and underside. Antibiotics are used to treat tick borne disease infections. Prevention is Key to enjoy the summer “tick free”.