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Westside Animal Hospital
4550 Illinois Rd.
Fort Wayne, IN 46804
P: 260.432.1542
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Paws and Consider...

The online blog of Westside Animal Hospital — important healthcare information to help you take the best care of your pet!

An Update on Ticks

Posted by on in Medical Trends
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The emerging tick story:

Whatever you thought you knew about ticks five years ago is rapidly changing.

Tick species are spreading across the country, inhabiting new areas, and carrying disease organisms into Indiana that we did not see here a generation ago. Scientists are studying ticks to learn more about their life cycles and the many infectious diseases (even viruses!) that they carry.

tickMany factors have contributed to the spread of ticks:

  • Increased numbers of white tailed deer and wild turkeys
  • General trend toward milder winters (in terms of less sustained sub-zero weather without snow cover for insulation)
  • Hurricane Katrina - Many homeless dogs were taken to shelters in other parts of the country, and many of these dogs were infected with ticks and tick-borne diseases such as Ehrlichiosis.
  • Mobile populations who travel with their dogs to "hot spot" areas for ticks and tick-borne diseases and then return to Indiana
  • Hunters who travel to other states to hunt and bring the bodies of the deer (along with the infected ticks) back to Indiana.

A female tick lays thousands of eggs in one location — creating a new “hot spot” of tick infestation. Every year, we have clients who tell us stories of how they encountered one of those spots.

According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC), one common misperception is that ticks are only active during warm weather. Different tick species are active at different times of the year, including cooler months. For example, adult deer ticks, which transmit Lyme disease and other infections, are actually most active during the winter months. When this longer activity is considered together with the increased geographical distribution, ticks are a year-round concern.

Ehrlichiosis prevalenceScreening for tick-borne diseases:

Diseases carried by ticks can be successfully treated if detected early with a simple blood test. Westside Animal Hospital offers screening for the three most common tick-borne diseases (Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis) from the same blood sample that we use to test your dog for heartworm.  If a patient tests positive for one or more of these diseases, more sophisticated tests can be performed to quantify the degree of infection.

The prevalence map of canine Ehrlichiosis to the right is courtesy of the Companion Animal Parasite Council.  For more detailed information, please visit the CAPC website.

Dogs may not show symptoms until the disease is advanced and permanent damage to organs, joints, and the nervous system has occurred.

What you need to protect your dog from ticks:

We know you want something that actually works and is safe for your dog. The doctors at Westside Animal Hospital have selected what we think are the best. Experts tell us that — just like with heartworm preventative — the best results come from using the products year-round. Ticks are harder to kill than fleas – so the products that are effective on ticks also work very well to kill fleas.

  • Vectra 3D
    Topical monthly product
    Has several years of a good track record
  • NexGard
    Monthly beef-flavored soft, chewy treat
    It is gaining in popularity because it offers the convenience of a monthly treat.
    It is now labeled safe for puppies over 8 weeks old and 4 pounds or greater.
  • Seresto
    Collar that kills fleas and ticks for 8 months!
    This came on the market last year. Dog owners that have used it are highly satisfied with the efficacy and ease of use.
  • Check your dog daily for ticks!
    Look especially carefully around the front quarters, head and the ears – both inside and out.
  • Vaccine
    Is available only for Lyme disease and is recommended for high-risk dogs that have significant exposure to deer ticks.

How to safely remove a tick:

Forget the old wives' tales you have heard about how to remove ticks – such as touching the tick with a hot match or coating the tick with fingernail polish or alcohol. These methods have been proven not to work – plus you can hurt your dog.

The proper method to remove a tick requires fine tip tweezers. There are also some commercially available tools to remove ticks. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and gently pull straight up. It is important not to squeeze the tick itself or you will likely inject more infectious disease organisms from the tick into your dog’s body.

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