Ticks: Also a Winter Danger

Did you know that ticks are still a problem in the winter time? Throughout fall and winter we continue to find ticks on our patients at Groveport Canal Animal Hospital. We have diagnosed dogs exposed to Lyme and other tick-transmitted diseases at our hospital almost weekly this fall and winter. Ticks, especially the tick that transmits Lyme disease, are active year round. This tick and others have developed an antifreeze-like substance that can keep it active and seeking blood meals in the winter.

Signs of Lyme Disease

Many dogs exhibit no signs, while other have joint swelling and lymph node enlargement. Often signs of Lyme disease are vague where pets are a little less active or may show stiffness. Because of the vague signs, many pet owners don’t seek treatment leaving their pets undiagnosed. Additionally, patients may not exhibits any signs until months after exposure making early diagnosis and treatment difficult.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of Tick-transmitted diseases is through testing. Because the prevalence of disease is high, we offer and recommend annual testing for the most common tick-transmitted diseases. These screening tests are very important since many dogs have no signs or signs of infection can take months to show up.

Treatment

Treatment of Tick-transmitted diseases usually involves antibiotics. Which antibiotic depends on which disease is transmitted. This fall and winter we have diagnosed cases of Lyme, Ehrlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis. We have not diagnosed, but know that cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Babesia have occurred in Central Ohio.

Prevention

The best way to deal with ticks and tick-transmitted diseases is through prevention. This is a relatively simple, but multifaceted process including:

  1. Tick Preventatives: Our favorite is Nexgard, an oral once a month chew that has been approved by the FDA for prevention of Lyme disease. Nexgard also prevents flea and mite skin infestations.
  2. Check your pet for ticks and remove them.
  3. Reduce habitat for ticks: Ticks love tall grasses, bushes, shade, and moisture. Keep your pet from wondering into “tick-loving” environments during walks. At home you can remove leaf litter, keep the grass short, trim trees and bushes to allow sunlight through and encourage quick drying of your pet’s yard.
  4. An effective vaccine is available to prevent Lyme Disease. We recommend all dogs in our area be vaccinated.

Tick prevention also helps protect the whole family since our four legged family members can bring in tick hitch-hikers. For more information about Lyme and other tick-transmitted diseases, please call the Groveport Canal Animal Hospital at 614-836-3222.