It is tick season on the East Coast. I had one of the little critters delivered to me in a sandwich bag just the other day. The owner had pulled it off her dog and brought it to me to identify, because she was worried the tick might make her dog sick. She did the right thing, but there are other options too.
Diseases ticks carry
Pet owners worry about ticks partly because they are yucky to find on your pet, but more importantly they carry diseases affecting both you and your dog. Most dog owners are aware of Lyme disease, which is transmitted by teeny, tiny deer ticks. In dogs, Lyme disease affects the joints and causes inflammation and lameness. The American dog tick carries the organism causing Rocky Mountain spotted fever. This disease, with a misleading name, occurs most commonly east of the Rocky Mountains. The American dog tick transmits Rocky Mountain spotted fever to both humans and dogs. The brown dog tick carries the organism causing canine babesiosis, a blood parasite of dogs. The bacterial infections, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis, have multiple different tick vectors that feed on and transmit the bacteria to both humans and dogs.
If you pull a tick off your pet, you may be able to identify it yourself using online resources. Since I live in New York State, I choose the Cornell University website, Tick Biology for the Homeowner, as my go-to website.
This website also includes guidelines for safe tick removal. In addition to universities, state and municipal departments of health may host websites with tick information for your area.
- Prevent tick-borne disease in your dog by preventing tick bites. See your veterinarian for one of the top spot flea and tick preventatives. Your veterinarian might also prescribe tick collars especially designed to kill Lyme disease-carrying ticks.
- One of my friends who lives in Lyme disease country had her yard professionally sprayed with an organic product containing a strong concentration of rosemary and garlic oil. There was not a tick to be found anywhere and she said her yard smelled really nice after the application.
- Worried about your health following a tick bite? Here is an interesting article on human babesiosis, an emerging disease in humans.