2014-04-16 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

Ticks. They’re back! Actually they never really left. The heinous hitchhikers are always lurking.

Most folks jump out of bed and grab the coffee pot. I was needle-nosed by my Afghan Hound the other morning at 7 a.m. As I was petting her thick hair, I felt the telltale tick lump right at the spot where a microchip would be, already plump with her blood. I jumped out of bed, grabbed tweezers and rubbing alcohol to yank the bugger off her. It’s a faster “get up and go” than any caffeine.

It’s best to have a cup of alcohol ready to drown the tick. Flushing them doesn’t ensure their demise. The longer the dog’s hair, the harder the search and destroy mission. Grab the tick with the tweezers by the head and mouth area; then pull to remove completely. Leaving the head attached can cause infection or disease. If you prefer to use your fingers, wear rubber gloves. Put some antibiotic ointment where the tick was attached. When on the grooming table for inspection, I find that a slicker brush is more apt to trap a tick that is still walking.

“Belinda”- The Babylon now Last Hope) Beagle still needs a home. “Belinda”- The Babylon now Last Hope) Beagle still needs a home. Your dog can get ticks in your own backyard but strolls in the woods seem to accentuate the attraction, probably because there’s so much sniffing in brush and bushes. The morning wake-up tick came the day after a walk at Southards Pond but we seem to bring home more ticks from Gardiner Park in Bay Shore. I use Frontline Plus as a topical but worry about putting too much insecticide on my dogs (and I hate what the sticky stuff does to Afghan coats) so I do not use these products year round. Time to start ( applying the protection.

Ticks carry disease with Lyme being our biggest concern on LI, but there are other tick-borne diseases too. At Last Hope we see cases of Erlichioisis and Anaplasmosis in some of the dogs that come on Kentucky and Virginia transports (but, so far, none from West Virginia). However, last month, “Belinda,” a Beagle that had been picked up on Cadman Avenue in Babylon Village, tested positive for Ehrlichiosis. She started her doxycycline at Babylon Shelter and finished the antibiotics at Last Hope but she still needs a home (www.lasthopeanimalrescue.org).

Not trying to scare you, but below is the “Whitman Sampler” of canine tick-borne diseases, courtesy of the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation. People are susceptible to most diseases carried by ticks too.

Ticks are parasites that attach themselves to dogs, feed on blood and transmit diseases directly into the dog’s system. Major tick-borne diseases transmitted to dogs in the United States include:

Lyme disease, which comes from the deer tick, can cause stiffness, lameness, swollen joints, loss of appetite, fever and fatigue. Your dog may not show signs of the disease until several months after infected. Lyme disease is a nationwide problem for dogs across the United States, with the northeastern states, California, mid-Atlantic states and the upper central states, having the most cases.

Canine Ehrlichiosis, found worldwide, is the most common and one of the most dangerous tick-borne disease organisms known to infect dogs. Caused by the brown dog tick, symptoms may not surface for months after transmission, and can include fever, loss of appetite, depression, weight loss, runny eyes and nose, nose bleeds and swollen limbs. The southwestern states and the Gulf states are where this disease is most frequently diagnosed. • Canine Anaplasmosis, also called dog fever or dog tick fever, is transmitted from the deer tick. Symptoms are similar to other tick diseases including fever, loss of appetite, stiff joints and lethargy, but also can include vomiting and diarrhea. In extreme cases, dogs may suffer seizures. Like Lyme disease, it is more common in New England, the northernmost central states, those in the mid-Atlantic region and in California.

Note: University of Florida veterinary researchers in Gainesville say a simple DNA-based test could help identify strains of a debilitating tick-borne disease that infects an increasing number of people.

The recent research marks the first time scientists have demonstrated the ability to distinguish human from animal strains in ticks carrying the organism that causes Anaplasmosis. This information could help scientists pinpoint areas where ticks that carry these strains are present in large numbers.

The number of Anaplasmosis cases in people reported to the CDC has increased steadily since the disease became reportable, climbing from 348 cases in 2000 to 1,761 cases in 2010.

In humans, the disease can be difficult to diagnose, as its symptoms are similar to those associated with other conditions, such as influenza and Lyme disease. These can range from mild to severe and include rashes, fever and chills, as well as aches and pains.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever comes from the American dog tick, the wood tick and the lone star tick. Symptoms include fever, stiffness, neurological problems and skin lesions. Typically the illness lasts about two weeks, but serious cases can result in death. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever occurs all over the U.S., with California, the South and the states that contain the Rockies reporting the most cases.

Canine Babesiosis is typically transmitted by the American dog tick and the brown dog tick. Causing anemia, symptoms may also include pale gums, weakness and vomiting. Canine Babesiosis is different from the other tickborne disease because a protozoan is what is introduced into the dog’s blood by the tick, not a bacterium. A type of tick called the Ixodid tick carries this particular disease. The southern states, along with Oklahoma, Arizona and Arkansas, are where this disease most often strikes dogs.

Canine Bartonellosis comes from the brown dog tick. Symptoms are intermittent lameness and fever. Left untreated, this disease can result in heart or liver disease.

Canine Hepatozoonosis is thought to be transmitted by the brown dog tick and Gulf Coast ticks. Your dog can be infected if he eats one of these disease-carrying ticks. Symptoms are fever, runny eyes and nose, muscle pain and diarrhea with the presence of blood.

For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (631-643- 9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: “AJ” 14-186 is an outgoing and overweight Puggle, only a year and a half old, who would do best in a one-dog home. “Jackie” 4-64 is an extremely friendly female cat in Cat Colony. She’d like to celebrate Easter with you.

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