For the Love of Ticks

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Hey look this is really cool a tick is crawling on your dog, and another and another!  When you work in the veterinary field as I did for 6 years you find that everyone has something that fascinates them.  For one of my coworkers it was abscesses the messier the better and for me it was ticks.  I loved them so much that I was known as the tick plucker anytime a dog came in I was assigned the task of tick removal.  When I left the veterinary industry my souvenir was the fattest tick I ever plucked preserved in formaldehyde (pictured above).  I love my tick and he has a permanent place on my bookshelf.

As much as I enjoy watching and plucking ticks I do not like the fact that they carry Lyme Disease and pose a health threat to animals and humans alike.  On January 29th 4 miles north of my hometown of Yucaipa, California two adult western black legged- ticks were collected that carried the bacteria for Lyme Disease.  This is the first finding since 1991 and that is very scary for an avid hiker like myself that not only hikes but hikes with my dog on single track trails in high brush.

The Mosquito and Vector Control Division suggest the following to protect humans from ticks:

— Avoid areas where ticks are known to occur.

— Stay in the middle of trails and avoid grassy areas, contact with logs, tree trunks and fallen branches or tree limbs in forests.

— Use a repellent registered for use against ticks. Repellents with DEET are effective and can be applied to the skin. Repellents with permethrin should be applied only to clothing.Be especially careful when applying to children.

— Thoroughly check yourself and others for ticks during, immediately after, and up to three days after activities in tick-infested areas.

— Shower immediately after engaging in outdoor activities where ticks live.

— Keep grass along trails, buildings and camping areas mown.

� If you find a tick attached to your skin:

— Grasp tick with tweezers or a tissue, (never with your bare hands) as close to your skin as possible.

— Firmly pull the tick from the skin. Do not jerk, twist or unscrew the tick.

— Do not attempt to remove by burning with a cigarette or by applying Vaseline, kerosene, etc.

— Wash your hands and the bite site with soap and water after removing the tick. Apply an antiseptic to the bite area.

— Save the tick for identification. Contact the Mosquito and Vector Control Program, which will determine whether the tick is a species capable of transmitting Lyme disease.

— Consult your physician if the tick cannot be removed or part of it is left in the skin, or if you develop a rash or flu-like symptoms within 30 days of a tick bite.

But what about your dog?  Can dogs get Lyme Disease? Yes dogs can and young dogs appear to be more susceptible to the disease than older dogs according to petMD. So protecting your dog is essential and below are a few tips to gets your started:

-When hiking with your dog keep them on a leash so they are not bounding through the brush where ticks are prevalent.

– When you get home thoroughly groom your dog and remove any ticks that you find.

-Use a preventative.  I highly recommend the Preventic Collars which can be purchased on Amazon.  I have found over the years that Frontline stops fleas but seems to do nothing for the ticks.  You can use the Preventic collars in combination with your other flea preventative.

-A Lyme Disease vaccine is available for dogs but it is generally not recommended for the following reasons according to UC Davis:

Canine Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme) Vaccine

The incidence of Lyme disease in California is currently considered extremely low. Furthermore, use of the vaccine even in endemic areas (such as the east coast of the US) has been controversial because of anecdotal reports of vaccine-associated adverse events. Most infected dogs show no clinical signs, and the majority of dogs contracting Lyme disease respond to treatment with antimicrobials. Furthermore, prophylaxis may be effectively achieved by preventing exposure to the tick vector. If travel to endemic areas (ie the east coast) is anticipated, vaccination with the Lyme subunit or OspC/OspA-containing bivalent bacterin vaccine could be considered, followed by boosters at intervals in line with risk of exposure. The UC Davis VMTH does not stock the Lyme vaccine or recommend it for use in dogs residing solely in northern California.

Yes I love the ticks but not on me and not on my dog I just like to admire the little creatures.  But most people do not share this love.  We can all agree on one thing however and that is keeping you and your dog’s tick free should be your top priority.

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