The state saw a sharp increase in the number of deer ticks that can carry Lyme disease last year, prompting concerns that more cases of the illness will turn up this year, insect experts said Wednesday.
A group that includes the state health and wildlife agencies is working to sort out what risks may be posed by last year’s spike in confirmed deer ticks, also known as black-legged ticks, and how best to spread the word and keep people safe. The experts believe the higher numbers are a sign of tick population growth, not simply the result of more active searching last year.
It’s unclear what spurred the increase, though researchers suspect one factor is favorable weather conditions that helped more of the tick population survive and thrive.
One of the problems with deer ticks is that they can be active throughout most of the year. And, unlike other ticks that are more finicky eaters, they’ll feed on a variety of creatures found throughout Ohio, including deer, mice, birds and lizards — and sometimes humans.
Ticks can transmit dangerous diseases, like Lyme disease, when they attach to a host and feed.
What Are Ticks?
Ticks are small, eight-legged parasites that must drink blood in order to survive and reproduce. Ticks don’t fly, and they can’t jump (unlike fleas). In fact, ticks are more closely related to spiders and mites than to “insects” like fleas. Of the hundreds of tick species, approximately 80 are found in the United States. Ticks can feed on a variety of hosts including birds, dogs, cats, and people.
Why Are Ticks a Problem?
If a dog is heavily infested with ticks, the parasites can drink enough blood to cause anemia (severe blood loss). However, ticks are mostly a concern because of the diseases they can transmit to their hosts. Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever are among the dangerous diseases that ticks can transmit to your dog. Although people can’t catch these diseases from dogs directly, infected ticks can bite people and transmit them. If your dog is exposed to these dangers, chances are that you and your family may also be at risk for exposure.
How Do Dogs Get Ticks?
Despite a very popular myth, ticks don’t fall or jump out of trees onto a host. However, ticks can climb, and they tend to attach themselves to shrubs and blades of tall grass. They can also live in dens of rodents and other small mammals. One species of tick can even live indoors.
When a host walks by and brushes against the grass or shrub where the tick is waiting, the tick climbs onto the host. Once on a new host, the tick eventually finds a location to attach and feed.
For some diseases, like Lyme disease, a tick must be attached for several hours in order to transmit the infection to a host. This means that if you check your dog (and yourself) daily, you have a chance of finding and removing any ticks before they can transmit Lyme disease.
How Can I Protect My Dog From Ticks?
Keeping your dog out of wooded areas, tall grass, and other tick habitats is a good way to reduce the risk of exposure. However, this can be difficult for many pet owners, especially if they share an active outdoor lifestyle with their dog.
We recommend using Revolution for tick and flea control. Revolution also is a Heartworm preventative and easily applied to the skin on the back of the neck every month. We also recommend Frontline to kill fleas and ticks. Stop by the office to get your dog and cat protected from these parasites. These products are safe and effective.
Remember that ticks are successful parasites that can be difficult to kill. Even if you are using an effective tick control product, you should still check your dog daily for ticks and remove any as soon as you find them. You should never remove a tick with your fingers. Tweezers work well, but be sure to grasp the tick close to the head and pull gently to avoid leaving the mouthparts imbedded in the skin. There are also tick removal tools that are very easy to use. Avoid using lighter fluid, matches, or other products that may irritate the skin or cause other injuries to your dog. When in doubt, ask your veterinary care team for assistance removing the tick.
Tick bites can be painful and irritating, but the real concern with ticks is the number of serious diseases they can transmit, such as Lyme disease, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. These diseases can cause significant illness and even death in both pets and people.
Despite his name Demon, a black Boxer is a wonderful dog. His owners, Melissa and Scott told us he “earned” that handle as a young pup. Apparently he was into everything. Puppyhood can be a very trying time for us dog owners (think Marley with black fur). The name stuck, although he grew up to be a very friendly and well behaved young dog, that is until Melissa and Scott went to work every day. He displayed symptoms of Separation Anxiety when left alone by engaging in destructive behavior. All of us who have experienced this know how difficult it is to come home after a hard day’s work and have to pick up the pieces of our lives left scattered over the house. Melissa and Scott dealt with his destructive behavior by erecting a very large kennel in her bedroom for him to stay in during her working hours. He can stay there safely they thought and at least not destroy anything. They gave him a nice comfortable blanket to lie on. Demon was presented to Dr. Current for not eating, vomiting and lethargy. He was happy and alert, his gums were pink, temperature was normal, and he was hydrated and had mild abdominal tenderness. Dr. Current ordered abdominal x-rays, gave an antiemetic (to stop vomiting) and something for the abdominal discomfort. The x-rays were suspicious for a foreign body. Upon questioning the owners if it was possible he might have ingested something, they reported that he had chewed his blanket several weeks prior. An exploratory laparotomy was scheduled. Dr. Current found a mass of strings in his stomach and also running through his bowels. Several incisions had to be made to retract the strings. The strings had sliced through his intestines in several areas, consequently allowing gastric juices to enter his abdominal cavity- a very serious situation. Dr. Current had lots of repair work to do. Repairs were made his abdominal cavity was flushed, and the rest was up to Demon. Demon was in the hospital for 10 days recovering from his surgery. He was unable to take anything by mouth while his intestines and stomach healed so all medications had to be given by injection, and he was on a lot of medications. Several antibiotics, pain medication, and medications to slow his gastric secretions where all indicated. Of course he couldn’t eat or drink so the IV’s continued to support his life. It was touch and go for a while and Melissa and Scott visited him daily getting updates from the staff and doctors as to his progress. He was not showing signs of improvement like he should have by now. Dr. Current wondered if Demon was suffering too much and suggested to Melissa and Scott that perhaps we should think about euthanasia. “He should be improving by now and the costs are adding up daily. I want to do what is best for you and for Demon,” Dr. Current said to them. Melissa and Scott agonized over this suggestion as they so wanted their companion to return home to them and since they had already gone this far they just couldn’t image giving up on Demon. So after much deliberating they decided to continue with his care. Through much intensive care he did improve and was sent home to his grateful owners for them to continue with his care, until he finally recovered to the bouncy and beautiful dog he is today. We at Community Veterinary Clinic appreciate Melissa’s and Scott’s dedication to their canine companion as they never gave up on him and neither did Dr. Current.
Check out our new surgery suite in Sidney! After careful planning it is finally done and the results are fantastic! Think of remodeling your old kitchen to include all the things you need and having 50% more room to use-that’s what our new suite is like! It allows us to be so much more efficient at our surgeries by having room for all of our equipment. It is more spacious to accommodate the laser and air evacuation equipment. We also have more room for our anesthesia machine and patient monitoring devises. We monitor all patients during surgery with ECG (measures heart beat parameters), Pulse Oximeter (measures oxygen saturation in the blood), and the patients’ blood pressure (yes, little cuffs for pets). We are proud to have this modern and up to date suite to allow us to better care for our pet patients’ surgical needs.