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Ticked off about ticks!

Ticked off about ticks!
June 28, 2022

-Harley Robinson, DVM

During the early course of the summer days and weeks, we have noted at the veterinary hospital an increase in dogs testing positive for a tick disease. In the 3 months leading up to this article, we have seen on average 21 positive tests per month. It is not surprising that the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) which monitors tick diseases has come out with a forecast of increased Lyme Disease risk for our area, as well as, much of the Midwest. The report concludes that Lyme Disease is spreading because of the expansion of populations of deer, rodents, and migratory birds carrying the deer tick to new areas. Warmer weather and longer seasons for tick reproduction are also factors. You can check out the prevalence maps on the CAPC website.

Because of these predictions and the number of dogs testing positive for Lyme Disease and other tick diseases, we have been recommending flea and tick preventive medications continually throughout the entire year. There are many new and effective products on the market that give significantly better protection than the 20th Century products. They are also safer. Some even come with a guarantee, but read the fine print because they are not all the same in what they guarantee. Check with your veterinarian for the best advice when looking for any parasite prevention.

More research continues surrounding tick diseases and new information leads to a heightened awareness of these diseases that affect both pets and people. We now know that once a dog is infected with the Lyme Disease organism, Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria’s unique mode of motility allows it to rapidly disseminate throughout the body. This makes the infection difficult to treat, underscoring the emphasis on prevention.

We know that not all pets or people will get become clinical when a tick transmits a disease organism into the body. But we do not know the long-term consequences of being in this condition. At our veterinary clinic, approximately 20% of dogs testing positive for Lyme Disease come in with signs of the disease, whereas 80% are asymptomatic. On the human side, there is a new report that more than 14% of the world’s population may have had Lyme Disease.  This conclusion was based on an examination of 90 seroprevalence studies of people worldwide looking at antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi. Clearly, this disease is spreading and infecting many pets and people.

Ticks can easily go unseen in your dog’s thick fur and ride into your home. Many of our clients whose dogs tested positive for Lyme had never seen a tick on their pet. The nymph stage of the deer tick is the size of a poppyseed. They are experts at feeding on the blood of their hosts. Like most parasites, their goal is to feed and reproduce. Protect your pet against ticks, fleas, and heartworms every month. Then enjoy your summer outdoors assured that you are following the advice of experts for pet parasite protection.