Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ticked off, by Dr. Angela Bross, DVM

 I’ve often wondered what the purpose for ticks is. After all, they seem quite useless except to bring about disease and suffering to those they deem worthy of parasitism. Aside from being a tasty morsel of food to Guinea fowl, they seem to exist not just as pests, which can cause anemia, but also can act as effective carriers of diseases like Lyme disease (Borellia burgdorferi), Ehrlichiosis (Rickettsia), Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (yet another Rickettsia), Babesiosis and Anaplasmosis. These are a whole lot of fancy words, but honestly, just remember that ticks can and often do cause disease. To complicate matters, a single tick can be co-infected with as many as two to three disease agents listed above. They are attracted to us, and our unsuspecting pets, by heat and carbon dioxide concentrations. Once a tick finds a suitable host, it attaches its mouth parts and begins ingesting the blood meal while transmitting disease at the same time. Disease transmission occurs by simple (mechanical) transfer.

An easy way to screen for tick-borne diseases is to ask your veterinarian to be sure to use the 4DX heartworm test when testing yearly for heartworm disease. This tests for three of the above-mentioned tick-borne diseases. If your pet seems listless and unwell, it is paramount to take him in to see his veterinarian as soon as possible. Tests for tick-borne illness may be indicated. If testing positive, antibiotics will be indicated as treatment as well as possible supportive therapy and hospitalization. Some tick-borne diseases can be life threatening, and prompt attention typically yields the best outcome.

Lyme is the most commonly report tick-borne disease in the United States. The most serious form is Lyme nephritis, which is an immune-mediated glomerulonephritis with Lyme-specific immune complexes deposited in the glomeruli. Fancy words aside, the Lyme agent couples with antibodies and compromises kidney function. Some dogs can end up with Lyme arthritis, which is typically responsive to an extended course of antibiotics. Those dogs who are found positive on 4DX but have no outward clinical signs should have their urine checked for protein at the least and possibly a blood panel complete with titer checking to better assess the state of the disease. Each tick-borne disease has its own area of mayhem in the body with the ability to inflict serious disease states or death.
 The best way to prevent tick-borne disease is to prevent tick attachment. There are several effective mechanisms of tick protection such as topical medications like Frontline or Advantix II as well as reputable flea and tick-collars like the Seresto collar, which the author favors from experience with her own pets. Large name brand tick prevention products typically yield much better results than knock off brands with the same active ingredients but less effective carrier molecules for drug delivery. Unfortunately, there are no tried and true holistic alternatives that exist in place of these products, so it is essential to stick to products that are known to work. Your pet’s health depends on it.

 Written by Dr. Angela Bross, DVM

Read more or contact Dr. Bross:

Angela Bross, DVM
Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice
Hampton Roads Virginia 
757-912-5275 |

Serving Chesapeake, Newport News, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Yorktown, Isle of Wight, Smithfield and extended service areas by request.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.