It’s early May and we’re already getting plenty of calls about ticks! What are ticks? Well, ticks are external parasites that hang out in the long grasses waiting for an animal (or you!) to walk by and hop onto. They attach their mouth parts to the surface of the skin and live off the blood that they suck from their host. Unfortunately, they can also carry diseases such as Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis.

Lyme disease is carried by deer ticks and may cause joint disease and more seriously, kidney failure. It is important to know that a tick must feed for at least 48 hours to transmit the disease. Ehrlichiosis is carried by the dog tick and can cause a variety of vague clinical signs such as lethargy, fever, painful joints or more seriously, bleed disorders. Anaplasmosis is carried by several different ticks and also features vague clinical signs such as lethargy and fever. Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis also take significant feeding times to be transmitted, but perhaps not as long as Lyme disease.

Our current heartworm test also tests for these 3 tick diseases, in fact, it can potentially find Lyme disease before the dog gets sick, giving us a chance to deal with it before the damage is done! If nothing else, it has shown several of our clients that their dog has been exposed to ticks, even though they had never seen a tick on their pet.

There are several products on the market to deal with ticks. The product Advantix has been around for years now and we are quite happy with it. It is topical, applied monthly and repels about 5 out of every 6 ticks that hop on the dog. The ticks that don’t hop off, quickly get killed after feeding. A new product called Bravecto is quite exciting for us as it is a pill that lasts for 12 weeks! It does not repel ticks but quickly kills them before disease is spread. Many of the people that did not like applying a topical product will like Bravecto! Both Bravecto and Advantix kill fleas as well.