SPRING IS HERE !
Yes, it is that time of year. The snow is melting, days are above freezing, and the ticks are crawling out of their winter hibernation spots. Ticks do not mind frosts at night. If the days are above freezing, the ticks will be out and actively seeking a host from which to take a blood meal.
Ticks are not only disgusting bugs, they carry a number of diseases that can cause serious health problems and even death for your dog. Everyone has heard of Lyme Disease, but have you heard of Ehrlichiosis or Anaplasmosis? These diseases are like Lyme in the fact they are caused by a bacterial infection spread by ticks, and like Lyme Disease, they can cause fevers, achy joints, and poor appetites. They differ because they can also cause problems with normal blood cell production and lead to bleeding disorders. Ehrlichiosis can also cause autoimmune disease. Fortunately, all tick diseases are treated with great success with the drug Doxycycline. This does not mean every pet can be cured, but the vast majority respond well to treatment and do not have long term problems.
A last word on tick diseases, not only can your dog get these diseases, they also affect humans. This means if your pet brings ticks in on their coat, and then the tick crawls up and bites you, you can get all these diseases too!
Our other favorite spring bug is the mosquito. Mosquitoes usually appear some time in April as the days warm up a bit more and the ground thaws. Mosquitoes can carry the “baby”worm stage of the Heartworm. When the mosquito bites your pet, it can leave behind this parasite in your pet. It burrows through the tissue and into a blood vessels. As it matures, it moves to the blood vessels in and around the heart, hence the name “heartworm”. Left untreated, heartworms can physically obstruct blood flow, and cause heart failure and death. Fortunately, heartworm is probably the easiest parasite to prevent with a monthly chewable “treat” medication. The bonus with the preventative medication is it also treats many intestinal parasites, some of which can infect people.
For more information on these parasites and diseases, please visit the website www.dogsandticks.com.