Ticks

Ticks are usually found accidentally while grooming or petting your dog or cat. The best way for your pet to avoid picking up these unwanted pests is to try and keep your pets out of the bushes, fields and woods. Daily grooming with a fine toothed comb will help rid your pet of ticks. 

The longer a tick is attached to your pet the greater the risk of infection. Ticks found on pets should be removed by using tick removing forceps or tick twisters. We do not recommend using other methods such as crushing, burning or using Vaseline to suffocate the tick as this may release the spirochete.  Make sure to remove the entire tick because embedded parts left behind in the skin can cause infection. 

 

Ticks are capable of transmitting serious diseases to any mammalian host they feed from, including people. Ticks have a two-year, three-host life cycle. The Ixodes species to ticks here on the coast in its first larval stage finds a small mammal to parasitize - usually rodents (mice, rats etc.) which carry Borrelia burgdorferi the causative agent of Lyme disease and thereby become the infective vector. These drop off over winter and molt into nymphs in the following spring. The nymphs can feed on any mammal eg. mice, dogs, people. The nymph stage is responsible for most of the cases of Lyme disease in people. In the fall of the second year the nymphs molt into adults, which are the most important source of infection for dogs in the following spring and summer.

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease or "The Great Imitator" as called by some specialists due to its ability to mimic many other diseases and its difficulty to diagnose, is caused by spirochete (borrelia burgdorferi) and is transmitted by ticks. The clinical signs of the disease vary but most commonly are lameness of one or more joints, fever, anorexia, lethargy and depression. Some of the less frequently seen problems are heart block, kidney failure and neurological changes such as seizures, aggression and behavioural changes. The skin rash representing the first stage of human Lyme disease is rare in animals.

Lyme Disease Test

We can test for Lyme disease in our pets.  We recommend testing or vaccinating your pet yearly.  Here on the coast we have ticks all year round due to the large population of deer and bushy areas.  The test involves taking a small amount of blood from your pet.  It is minimally invasive and we can have results in 10 minutes.

Tick Prevention and Vaccination

The only sure fire way to prevent ticks is to avoid the bush, but this is not an option for most families.  Advantix is a relatively new prescription product that is available for dogs, which does not prevent ticks from attaching, but when they do, the tick quickly detaches as it gets a nasty feeling.  This can help to prevent Lyme disease as this tick detaches too quickly to have sufficient time to inject the spirochete. 

Vaccination against Lyme disease is available.  Please discuss this option with your veterinarian to see if it is right for your pet.