Tick Talk

Author: Diane R Mitchell
Originally Published in GPSSC Der Schnurrbart Summer 2008 issue

Did you know there are more than 2,500 varieties of ticks in the world? Lucky for those of us in North America, only a few varieties have been noted to be a threat in our area.      Ticks, in North America, do distribute some diseases including babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, tularemia, lymes diseas, tick paralysis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, and lymes diseas can actually be transmitted by one tick all at the same time. If your dog has a fever, lameness, swollen legs, trembles a lot over nothing, very pale gums, is tired all the time, won’t eat and is losing a lot of weight, vomits, or seems depressed, these can all be signs that your dog has been attacked by a tick and may have one of the tick born diseases. Lymes diseases can actually mimic other diseases and can be hard to diagnose.      Some of the ticks that can be found around our area include the deer tick, which is reddish brown with black head and legs. This tick can also attack in its larva stage, which looks a lot like a grey piece of eye crud. The American dog tick is mostly brown and has a more oval body with white near its head. It is mostly found in the eastern United States and is known to carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever along with other diseases. The brown dog tick can be found all over North America mostly indoors and is known to carry ehrlichiosis as well as babesiosis. The Lone Star tick lives in and around Texas and has a terrible bite. It can track prey from thirty feet away. The Pacific Coast tick is very similar to the American Dog tick, but causes tularemia. Finally, the Relapsing Fever ticks are soft bodied, blue to grey and have a rough texture. They cause relapsing fever and live in the burrows of wild animals and live west of the Mississippi.      If you live in a tick prone area, and Pennsylvania is considered one, you should use the tick prevention that your vet recommends. Any time you take a walk in a wooded area with your dog, check them for ticks. Make sure you use tweezers to remove the ticks and be certain to get the head! For such small bugs, ticks can be very dangerous!