Ticks, like other bloodsuckers, fall into my category of disgusting parasites. Honestly, they give me the heebie geebies. I also avoid mosquitos, fleas, and leeches to name a few. But ticks most definitely are at the top of my list. Here’s why:
- They are in the arachnid family, the same family as spiders, which means regular pesticides for your yard usually won’t kill them.
- They transmit at least 5 illnesses, known as rickettsial diseases.
- Rickettsial diseases afflict humans and animals alike.
- Untreated tick infestations can cause anemia and malnourishment.
In Virginia there are 4 different species of ticks and all of them transmit disease: The Deer tick, American Dog tick, Brown Dog tick ,and the Lone Star tick.
The 5 common diseases transmitted by these ticks are Lyme Disease, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Babesiosis. Most tickborne diseases have similar symptoms; fever/chills, aches and pains, profound fatigue, and rashes. They can also cause more serious symptoms such as chronic nosebleeds and kidney failure. However, it can be hard to tell if your pet is affected because the symptoms may not appear for weeks after you remove a tick. Tick borne diseases are transmitted when a tick attaches itself to a host (you or your pet). After a few hours, the tick is able to transmit disease.
At Midlothian Animal Clinic, we test dogs annually for heartworms with a 4-way blood test. What does that mean? When we take a blood sample during a dog’s annual exam, not only is your pet getting tested for heartworms (another threatening parasite), but also 3 of the 5 common tickborne diseases that plague our area: Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis.
This simple blood test allows us to determine if your pet has been exposed to a tick borne disease and treat accordingly.
With this in mind, tick prevention is the key. We recommend flea and tick preventative monthly, year round, to keep you and your pet safe. Many preventatives in our clinic kill or repel ticks before they can transmit disease.
If your dog tests positive for exposure to Lyme disease on their annual test, or if they have a history of regular tick exposure, we may also recommend vaccinating for Lyme disease. Dogs initially receive two vaccines one month apart, and then annually.
Stay tuned next week for a rundown of how to choose the best flea and tick preventative for your pet!