Ticks: The Swiss army knife of insects
The many diseases they carry and protection measures for your pet
By Dr. Roger Krogstad, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
Thirty years ago I wrote a brief article about the nuisance of ticks on pets. Today not only are ticks a nuisance, but they can carry deadly diseases. I have heard ticks referred to as the “Swiss army knife” of insects because of the many diseases they can carry and transmit to pets and people.
In recent years the names anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, bartonellosis, borreliosis, and a few others have become a common diagnosis of illness—and sometimes death—in dogs. The good news for cat owners is that cats tend to get very few tick attachments and are resistant to many of the tick-borne diseases.
Many of us have friends or relatives whose lives have been impacted by one of these diseases, usually Lyme disease. Wisconsin is in the top four states for reported cases of this often debilitating disease. We have high numbers of Ixodes ticks, also known as deer or bear ticks, which become infected from their first host, usually the white-footed deer mouse. The Lyme bacteria now inside the tick are able to be transmitted through attachment to the next of three additional hosts that the tick will encounter during its life cycle.
A recent article in Outside Magazine stated that less than one third of Lyme-infected people ever find the tick on themselves that gave them Lyme disease. Smaller than a poppy seed, how will you ever find this tick on your furry pet? What can be done to protect your beloved pet?
Your veterinarian has the answer. It usually starts with an annual blood screening test to identify if exposure has already occurred. There is also a vaccination that gives 80-90 percent protection against Lyme disease. The doctor and staff also have the latest information on professional-grade topical and oral preventative products. A protection plan can be tailored to a pet’s risk level of tick exposure.
This year’s batch of ticks is already here. Protect your pet. Stop in to talk to your veterinarian right away to get your pet on board with protection.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.