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Time is tick-ing

As spring quickly approaches, there is a parasite that seems to be enjoying the cold weather, TICKS. This arachnid is finding cold weather more tolerable than years past and he is hitching a ride on your pet along with getting a nice warm meal. This ectoparasite lives on the blood of mammals and can carry several different diseases, some of which can be passed on to people. Ticks can carry Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis just to name a few. There have been 9 cases of tick borne disease at our practice in the last year, mainly due to the American Deer Tick now being an endemic (permanent resident) species to Northeast Ohio.

What are tick borne diseases?

There are 3 commonly found tick borne disease in Northeast Ohio, Lyme, Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis. 

Lyme disease is the most commonly known disease that ticks carry. This disease can harbor itself inside your pet’s body for some time before symptoms will manifest. The most common symptoms are fever, lethargy, lameness, swelling in the joints, swollen lymph nodes and loss of appetite. Though there is a vaccination for Lyme disease, once it is contracted it cannot be cured. The symptoms can only be managed as they manifest.

Anaplasmosis comes in two different forms, the first form is an infection of the white blood cells, and the second form is an infection of the blood platelets that can lead to bleeding disorders. Pets that have contracted Anaplasma commonly exhibit loss of appetite, lethargy, lameness, neck pain or neurologic signs in some cases, bruising on the gums and belly and spontaneous nosebleeds.

Ehrlichiosis is another major disease that ticks can transmit to both our pets and ourselves. If left untreated, this disease could progress into a chronic (persistent) infection, which can last days, months, or years without showing any symptoms. Pets who have contracted Ehrichiosis typically show signs of depression and/or lack of energy, loss of appetite, runny eyes and nose/discharge, spontaneous nose bleeds, bruising on gums and belly, lameness/joint pain and spontaneous and shifting leg lameness/reluctance to move.

What can I do to protect my pet from ticks?

The best way to prevent your dog from picking up ticks is to keep your dog on a monthly flea and tick preventative. These preventatives are usually applied to the back of the neck or come in a chewable form and will kill the tick on contact. Revolution and Bravecto are two products that we carry that will protect your dog from ticks. In addition to monthly preventatives, there are tick collars, sprays and shampoos that can be used regularly to protect your dog from ticks. Cats can be very sensitive to these medications and in some cases it can be toxic to use these topical tick preventatives. Always consult with your veterinarian before starting your dog or cat on a tick preventative.

There are things you can do in your yard to reduce the likelihood of your pet picking up a tick. Regularly remove leaf litter and clear tall grasses and brush around your home, and place wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to keep ticks away from recreational areas. Be sure to keep play areas and playground equipment away from shrubs, bushes and other vegetation. You can consider using chemical control agents to your yard. These chemical are available at any home improvement store or they can be applied professionally by a pest control expert. A single spring time application of acaricide can reduce the population of ticks that cause Lyme disease by 68-100% (cdc.gov/features/stopticks). Lastly removing any plants that attract deer and constructing physical barriers may help discourage deer from entering your yard and bringing ticks with them.

If at any time you think your pet was bitten by a tick or currently has a tick on them, contact your veterinarian. If you would like to learn more about tick prevention please call our office at 440-845-7141 or contact us through our website.

Cleveland.com had an article detailing this exact concern, follow the link to read about it. Blacklegged ticks, Lyme disease risk feared on the rise in Ohio this year

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