Archive for May, 2016

Tick season is upon us and prevention is key to protecting our pets

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016
danger from ticks

It is tick season!

Eek!  Ticks!  They are the stuff of nightmares.

With eight spindly legs, crunchy exoskeletons, blood sucking mouthparts and ninja-like stealth, ticks dredge up feelings of disgust, revulsion and fear in those who encounter them.  And rightly so.  While they certainly have their place in our ecosystem, ticks are parasites – parasites that harbor nasty diseases which they can transmit to their hosts.  Understanding tick-borne diseases, their prevalence, geographic risk factors and tick prevention is imperative not only for your own health, but also for the health of your pet.

Tick Seasonal Activity of Deer Tick Life Stages

Seasonal Tick Activity. Courtesy of TickEncounter Resource Center, URI.  www.tickencounter.org

 

What are the common tick-borne diseases?

The world of tick-borne diseases is complex and scary.  Tick-borne diseases are very real, and they are on the rise.  Veterinary Week reported a 30 percent increase in the rate of dogs exposed to tick-borne diseases between 2006 and 2010.  While the list of tick-borne diseases is extensive, the most common tick-borne diseases we see in our canine patients are EhrlichiosisAnaplasmosisRocky Mountain Spotted FeverHepatozoonosis, BabesiosisBartonella and Lyme disease.  Infection with one of these diseases occurs after an infected tick attaches to its host and begins a blood meal.

tick life cycle hillsvet

Tick life cycles. Source: www.hillsvet.com

The time until infection varies according to the tick species and the transmitted disease, but infection times range from a couple hours to days or longer.  Symptoms of tick-borne diseases are also varied in clinical signs and severity, but include stiffness, swollen joints, fever, kidney disease, loss of appetite, anemia, vomiting, skin lesions, lethargy and other.  Some tick diseases can be fatal.

Removing a tick

how to remove a tick

Dr. Richerson helping a pet by removing a tick.

We recommend you bring your pet in to our hospital for removal of  all ticks. 

Sometimes ticks can embed in your pet and make complete removal difficult for you. Complete removal is critical. We have equipment, and the training, to ensure complete removal and minimize any associated complications.

We want to make sure that the tick didn’t infect your pet and cause unnecessary issues for him or her.  We can test for infection and take steps to protect your pet’s health immediately. Waiting and watching to see if your pet develops symptoms from a tick bite can put additional stress on you and on your pet. We can and want to help you and your pet limit this stress.

 

How prevalent are ticks near me? Ticks in Oak Park and Chicago?

On the www.petsandparasites.org site there is an interactive map for you to use in determining the prevalence of ticks in the US.   Click here to go to the site and use their maps.

What is the best Tick prevention?

The best way to prevent tick-borne disease infection in your pets is through appropriate tick prevention.  There are many ways to protect your pet against ticks.  The most common form of tick protection is through a prescription oral or topical flea and tick preventive.  Many can be given once monthly orally that protects against the 4 most common tick infestations in dogs: Black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis), American Dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), Lone Star tick (Amblyomma amerianum), and Brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus).  The tick must take a blood meal to be exposed to the preventive, after which >94% of ticks will die within 48 hours.

In addition to topical and oral flea and tick preventives, we recommend and prescribe, very specific types of tick collars to repel ticks.  We can recommend prescription products that repel and kill ticks if your pet spends a lot of time in tick endemic regions, for example wooded areas/farms or have summer homes in Wisconsin. People have become so very mobile frequently owning residence in more rural areas as well as their home in our area. Therefore, ticks can be brought home to our area to infect our parks and forest preserves. This is also why we recommend flea and tick prevention even for pets that never leave our area.

Recently, there is a newly formulated vaccine available that may offer more protection against Lyme disease.  Lyme disease is carried by the Black-legged “deer” tick (Ixodes scapularis) and can cause clinical signs such as stiffness, lameness, swollen joints, kidney disease, loss of appetite, fever and lethargy.  Following consultation with Dr. Ed Breitschwerdt,  section head of Infectious Disease at North Carolina State University,  we will be immunizing at risk patients for Lyme disease with this new vaccine.  We can discuss the new vaccine and whether it is advisable for your pet during your next examination appointment.

Please remember that tick preventives are important not only for the health of your pet, but also for the health of you and your family.  If infected ticks are being carried into your home by your pets, your family also can be at risk of exposure to tick-borne diseases. Please call us or schedule an appointment with us to discuss any concerns you may have about ticks and your pet.