Ticks are tenacious bloodsuckers that inflict painful bites, cause anemia, and can transmit serious diseases to us and our companion animals. They prey on the blood of dogs, horses, deer, birds, rodents and people. There are hundreds of kinds of ticks, including the dog tick and the deer tick.
The diseases that ticks can transmit to companion animals include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis (a bacterial infection), and babesiosis (a blood disorder).
Ticks live in cracks and crevices in the home, or outside in grassy meadows, woods, brush and weeds. They cannot fly or jump, but they can detect the carbon dioxide given off by warm-blooded animals. Often, they will wait in wooded or grassy areas and attach themselves to any living creature that brushes them.
The first human outbreak of Lyme disease was identified in Lyme, Connecticut in 1975, when an unusually large number of cases of arthritis resembling rheumatoid disease occurred within a small geographic area. Studies concluded that dogs from the same location also developed arthritis similar to that in human Lyme disease. Although Lyme disease is an illness common to humans and animals, there is no evidence that it can be transmitted from one to the other. Clinical signs of Lyme disease in pets include loss of appetite, lameness, lethargy and fever.
Lyme disease vaccinations are available for dogs. If you live in an area that is prone to Lyme disease, consult your veterinarian about the availability and use of this vaccine.