When presented with a live tick, most people are repulsed and immediately start scanning themselves for more of the eight-legged parasites. We call this the “yuck factor,” and pet owners will go to great lengths to make sure that neither they or their pets are afflicted by these bloody thirsty pests!
Beyond the “yuck factor,” ticks are also considered a public health threat. They have been known to harbor several very scary diseases, such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease, Anaplasma, Ehrlichiosis and Tick Paralysis. While this is certainly scary for our pets, these diseases can affect people, too! So keeping ticks off pets is just one step in keeping the whole family healthy!
According to Dr. Michael Dryden of Kansas State University, tick populations have continued to explode and even expand over the last several decades. Ticks are now showing up in areas of the country where they have never been before. Dryden states that the white-tailed deer population soared to more than 30 million in the U.S. in 2015, and deer are a primary host for ticks. Ticks have also been known to infect birds. So those gorgeous songbirds hanging at your bird feeder could be bringing ticks right into your backyard.
Veterinarians are continuing to see cases of tick borne diseases in our pets. Here in Central Indiana, the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) is reporting that in 2018, 1-3% of dogs have tested positive for Lyme Disease or Ehrlichiosis. It is important to note that these tests simply show exposure and not necessarily active diseases. You can check out a great interactive map at www.petsandparasites.com and see what parasites and diseases are common in your area.
What can a proactive pet owner to do? First, talk with your veterinarian about the different types of ticks common to your area, and what kinds of concerns they can bring to your pet. Next, consider some sort of parasite prevention to keep these pests from causing illness in your pet. Veterinarians have many safe and effective options that can not only help prevent disease transmission, but can actually kill the ticks that get on your pet. In addition, many of these products will help kill those nasty fleas too! Finally, even if you don’t take your pet hiking or camping, ticks can show up in your neighborhood and your backyard. Check your pet routinely after they have been outside. Check their ears, feet, belly…under the tail. These are easy areas for ticks to reach.
Above all, the most important lesson is to BE AWARE that these dangers exist. Work with your Veterinarian to find the right product to protect your pet, and to help guide you if a tick does find its way onto your pampered pooch. Let our team know if you have any questions when it comes to parasite prevention for your furry friends!