Fleas & ticks are gross from a purely aesthetic perspective. But besides being "ugly", "creepy", or however else you care to describe them, they can also cause serious health problems for our pets (as well as people!). Fleas & ticks are parasites – organisms that feed off of other living things. As they feed by ingesting blood from your pet, they can potentially transmit diseases to your pet. These are called vector borne diseases. Some of these diseases can also be transmitted to people by the flea or tick. Although there are more than we can review here, we'll go over some of the more common concerns we have with these parasites.
few diseases can be carried by ticks, and the kind depends on the type of tick
as well as the area in which you live. The most well-known tick transmitted
diseases are Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease.
Lyme Disease – This disease is transmitted by the deer tick & western black legged tick. The deer tick is prevalent in our area & Lyme disease has been reported in St. Clair County. Unfortunately, the initial signs of this disease are often vague. If we’re fortunate enough to detect them, lethargy, fever and a shifting leg lameness tend to be most common. In the most severe cases, kidney failure is the end result that can ultimately lead to death. For those dogs that will be exposed to ticks, not only should a tick product be used routinely, but owners should also have their pet vaccinated for Lyme disease. Although no vaccine is 100% effective, the benefits of having an exposed pet vaccinated far outweigh any risks. Initially, dogs will need 2 immunizations 3-4 weeks apart. Thereafter though, the vaccine can be given annually. Another precaution that should be taken is to thoroughly check your pet for ticks after each and every hike or potential encounter with ticks. Obviously some dogs have long or thick coats, or even darker hair & skin making it more difficult, but it’s still a worthwhile practice to do.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever - This disease is transmitted by the American dog tick & lone star tick, but only the American dog tick is in our area. Fortunately we have not had any reportings of RMSF in pets in our area.
Some products that you might want to consider that offer tick protection are:
Nexgard – an oral option for those who like orals – for dogs only.
Preventic Tick Collar – though we don’t typically recommend collars for flea protection, this collar works well for ticks if used according to the directions. It can be found on our web store & at most pet retail stores. For dogs only!!!
Frontline Plus or Gold - a topical product that is applied monthly and is available for dogs as well as cats.
Be careful as many tick products cannot be used on cats!!!! Please always read the labels!
The following website is an excellent resource for information on all things ticks: Companion Animal Parasite Council - Ticks.