Dogs make our lives whole and show us things we might otherwise miss – a coiled water snake sunning itself among leaves, a snapping turtle that did not make it across a dirt road. Canines serve as protectors, quickly noticing the approach of a human or another animal – sometimes even an approaching storm. Pay attention to your dog, tune in to body language, nuances; another layer of life hitherto unseen will be revealed.
Dogs cannot protect themselves against ticks, however. Be to take precautions for yourself and your four-legged companions as the adult forms are more active during this time of the year. Some information from the UConn Extension, University of Connecticut: These disease-carrying arachnids reside in moist areas, long grass and the leaf litter and will latch onto humans and animals alike.
Although there are many different species of ticks, people generally think of one tick species in particular when worrying about illness: the deer tick. While the deer tick is predominantly known for transmitting Lyme disease (caused by the corkscrew-shaped bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi) it can also carry other disease causing agents such as Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Babesia microti and Borrelia miyamotoi.
These are the causative agents of Granulocytic Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis and Borrelia miyamotoi, respectively. A single tick has the potential to transmit one, two, or even all four of these illnesses simultaneously. Other species of ticks found in the Northeast such as the dog tick (Dermacentor variablis), brown dog tick (Rhiphcephalus sanguineus) and Lonestar tick (Amblyomma americanum) can also be tested for different pathogens known to cause illness in humans and/or animals.
If you find a tick on yourself, your child, or your pet, remove it immediately but do not make any attempt to destroy it. The Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (CVMDL) at UConn can test the tick for all those pathogens. Ticks received at the CVMDL are first examined and identified by trained technicians using a dissection microscope. This identification process determines the species of tick, life stage, and degree of blood engorgement, all of which are factors that may impact transmission of pathogens to the person or animal (the host). Ticks may then be tested for the DNA of pathogens that are known to be transmitted by that tick species. Results are reported within 3-5 business days of receiving the sample. Next business day RUSH testing is available for an additional fee. The information obtained from testing your tick at UConn is very useful when consulting with your physician or veterinarian about further actions you may need to take.
Compared to 2016, this year, the CVMDL has seen a significant increase in the numbers of tick submissions to the laboratory. In the month of April the number of submissions increased 92% relative to the same month in 2016. The increases for other warm weather months were 104% in May, 70% in June and 60% in July. CVMDL speculates that changes in weather patterns this year may have affected changes in tick populations and with that, increased number of tick submissions to the lab.
How to send in ticks: Place ticks in sealed, double zip-lock bags accompanied by a small square of moist paper towel.
The submission form and the “Do’s and Don’ts of tick testing” can be found at http://s.uconn.edu/tickform.
For those not in Connecticut, check with your local extension office for available testing.
As the earth warms up, life gets growing. Humans and canines travel more, meet and mingle. In our travels, a dog often sparks a conversation, recommendations, insights.So while gardening or visiting a park, enjoying a market or just taking a walk, don’t let a tiny speck of life known as the tick wreak havoc on the health of a canine companion.
A good source of information is the online Tick Encounter Resource Center, headquartered in Rhode Island, which includes interactive reports for when ticks are most active. URI’s Center for Vector-Borne Disease (CVBD) is “devoted to conducting basic and applied research leading to better strategies for predicting and preventing insect- and arthropod-transmitted infections locally and world-wide. We work on advancing novel concepts like anti-tick vaccine strategies for broad spectrum protection against tick-borne disease.” Here’s a link to “Hidden in the Leaves.”
Use a topical preventative (such as Parastar Plus, Frontline, etc.) according to your veterinarian’s recommendations and follow the manufacturer’s packaged instructions – if any questions, talk to your vet.
To dispose of a tick, deposit it in a pill bottle with a tight cap filled with alcohol.
(Flushing a tick will not kill it.)
Note: Consult with your vet if a pet seems “funny, not quite right, but I can’t put my finger on why.” Ask for IDEXX’s Snap 4Dx test which screens for “detection of antigen to Dirofilaria immitis, antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Anaplasma platys, Ehrlichia canis, and Ehrlichia ewingii in canine serum, plasma, or anticoagulated whole blood.”
Wondering why we advocate this particular test at least once a year? Having battled co-infections of Lyme and anaplasmosis in two of our dogs, we’d like others to never have the experience. More resources linked here.
– E.B. White