By: Dr. Hilary Slaven
Look at this beast. As an immature nymph, he can be as small as the end of a ball-point pen. He lives in wooded and grassy areas. He sucks blood for food and spreads disease in the process.
Diseases spread to humans by ticks include:
- Lyme disease
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever
- Southern tick-associated rash illness
- Tick-borne relapsing fever
We know that dogs can also get several of the above diseases; we see Lyme disease in our clinic multiple times a week! Tick experts say that this number is not predicted to change in the future.
What is happening?
In west central Indiana, our tick encounter index is HIGH, with the top two reported being the American dog tick, followed closely by deer ticks (and very occasionally Lone Star ticks). American dog ticks live in the home and perpetuate on our dogs. Deer ticks use our abundant deer population to complete their life cycle.
The best treatment is prevention.
Remember that ‘DEET, showers, and tick checks can stop ticks’ when it comes to our human friends.
Dogs and cats can also benefit greatly from tick checks. With our furry friends, we can go one step beyond this and give prevention BEFORE we send them out into the outdoors, to kill fleas and ticks before they have a chance to attach and proliferate.
Remember: Use of a quality tick prevention can stop disease spread and also prevents your pet from bringing ticks into your home.
There are a number of excellent products now on the market that your veterinarian can dispense to you based on your needs. These vary from a 30-day topical liquid that is absorbed through the skin, to a new tick collar that lasts for 8 months, to monthly meat-flavored chewable treats that kill both fleas and ticks. This year, we even have a new chewable treat that kills fleas and ticks for 3 months! This means that one chew four times a year protects you, your pet and your home from infestations of pests.
The following sites do a wonderful job with tips for prevention, yard care, and other tips for tick control.
Tick control tips: University of Rhode Island.
Come in to the clinic or give us a call. We can help you to find the right product for you and your pet to keep your home tick-free!