Five cases in three weeks. Let me elaborate: I have diagnosed five cases of tick-borne diseases in the past three weeks. The old ways of not having to worry about ticks (or fleas) in the winter have turned into myth. These little arachnids just love to snuggle up to where people and animals live during the colder months, and some even have strange bodily “super powers” that allow them to survive through the winter months. But let’s face it; we’re not having true winters anymore. I have been seeing ticks and fleas all year round with no break!
Now we all know about Lyme Disease, but did you know there are other tick diseases out there? For example, out of those five cases, three were Lyme and two were Anaplasma. I’ve also diagnosed Ehrlichia in the past. There are several others that occur in other parts of the country.
The good news is that it takes roughly 36 hours for tick diseases to be transmitted from a tick to you or your pet. In addition to a good flea and tick preventative, checking your furry companion and yourself daily is a great way to get these parasites removed before they have a chance to transmit any diseases. There is also a vaccine for Lyme Disease, and you can talk to your veterinarian to see if it is right for your pet.
If you do find one of these pesky parasites on your pet, please don’t use a match, nail polish, Vaseline or any of the old “home-remedies.” They don’t work and you could end up doing more harm to your pet. There are products out there that help. I, personally, love the Tick Key, but there are various forceps and tools that will do the trick. When in doubt, go to your vet!
If you find a tick attached to your dog and you’re worried about a tick-borne disease, talk to your vet about running a blood test to check the common forms. It is pretty difficult to detect in the early stages, but by a month out, it should show up on the test. Your veterinarian may recommend several tests.
You may not find a tick or it may have fallen off before you could find it. So what are the common symptoms of a tick disease? Symptoms can be as light as lethargy and loss of appetite, to fever, limping, heart disease, paralysis, or even kidney failure!
If your dog does have one of these diseases, typically, treatment is with an antibiotic for four weeks. Pain medication may also be given for the joint pain that some experience. Unfortunately, symptoms can return and further treatment is needed. My best case was a dog that was diagnosed and never had a “flare up.” My worst case was a poor pup that needed treatment every three months because the symptoms kept coming back. The good news is that you can’t get any tick disease directly from your dog. The problem is that if you were in the same area where your dog was bitten, you may have been bitten, too.
Please be safe and savvy about these ticking time bombs and remember: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!