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Deer ticks also known as - black legged ticks
Everything you need to know about Lyme disease in dogs and their allergic reactions to deer ticks bites
What is Lyme disease? | Black legged deer ticks' bites | Lyme disease symptoms | How is Lyme disease treated? How do vets check for Lyme disease? | Can dogs be cured of Lyme disease? | Can my family catch Lyme disease from our dog? | How can I prevent my dog from catching Lyme Disease?
Deer tick bites are one of the risks that come with allowing dogs to run free.
Forests, wooded areas, high grasses and even running water can all be places where dogs can pick up deer ticks.
While some tick bites cause no more than and an odd allergic "hot spot" or two, others can cause a whole range of extremely unpleasant and serious side effects. There is really no general rule, because every dog reacts in a different way to each and every tick bite.
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease was first recognised in humans in 1977 and discovered in dogs in 1984.
The disease takes its name from the place in which it was first discovered - in Old Lyme, Conneticut, USA.
The disease is caused by a bacterium called "borrelia burgdorferi", which belongs to a family of bacteria called spirochaetes.
Lyme disease is most commonly found in the UK, Europe and in the North Eastern and Mid Western states of the United States. Depending in which country you live black legged ticks are also know as deer ticks and their Latin name is "ixodes scapularis".
Black legged deer ticks' bites
Lyme disease is transmitted to dogs from the bites of a deer ticks that have previously been infected with borrelia bacteria. A tick becomes infected with borrelia bacteria by sucking and drinking the blood of hosts which carry the bacteria.
Typically their normal hosts are rodent type animals such, rats and voles, but they are not fussy and will latch on to any animal to feed.
A feeding tick is basically a blood sucker. In order to feed it must keep its host's blood from clotting, and therefore it regurgitates an assortment of enzymes to keep the blood flowing. It is during this regurgitation process that the Lyme spirochaete is brought up from the deer tick's digestive tract and into its mouth. And from there into the bloodstream of the dog it is feeding on
This whole process needs a minimum of 48 hours to take place, which means that if the tick is removed within 48 hours of attaching itself to a host, the spirochaete can't be transmitted. This is why diligent dog owners should make a regular habbit of checking their dogs for deer ticks shortly after coming in from walks.
To be on the safe side we recommend using Apawthecary FidoDerm Dog Herbal Spray on the skin surrounding the area from where the tick was removed. The spray has a soothing and healing effect and gives immediate relief from flea and tick bites.
You may also like to view our other allergy free and tick control/prevention products by clicking on our Allergy Free Products page.
If a tick should slip the net and remain on a dog for more than 48 hours, its system will be infected with borrelia bacteria and it could suffer an allergic reaction accompanied by Lyme disease symptoms.
An allergy happens when a dog's immune system creates antibodies and inflames in a way that is intended to assist the body to fight off infection. In the case of Lyme disease however, the body begins attacking itself rather than any outside threat.
Lyme disease symptoms
Most dogs infected with Lyme bacteria show no symptoms at all. Very often the condition is identified by a veterinarian during an annual check up.
It is not known why some dogs present with symptoms and others don't. Although generally speaking, the age at which dogs are infected by the bites of black legged ticks, has a lot to do with the onset of symptoms. Younger dogs tend to react more severely than mature ones do, most probably because they have had less time to build up an immunity
One of the difficulties of diagnosing Lyme disease is that Lyme disease symptoms resemble many other diseases e.g. arthritis/autoimmune disease. Some dogs can be affected with Lyme disease for over a year before they even start to show any symptoms, and sadly by this time the disease can be quite widespread throughout their bodies.
Depending on the advancement of the condition here are some of the symptoms to watch out for:
How do vets check for Lyme disease?
To check for Lyme disease, your veterinarian will:
How is Lyme disease treated?Treatment of Lyme disease in its early stages is pretty straight forward, and therefore it is urgent to seek veterinary advice if you suspect your pet has been bitten by a tick or is showing symptoms of Lyme disease.
The American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine - recommends:
Can dogs be cured of Lyme disease?
The bacteria which causes Lyme disease is extremely clever at disguising and hiding itself from a dog's body defenses. Therefore you can never really be sure if it has truly gone.
However, with the regular use of proper tick control/prevention products and the passage of time the Lyme disease bacteria will decrease in number and symptoms of the disease will dissipate.
Can my family catch Lyme disease from our dog?
No, your family can not catch Lyme disease from your infected dog. However, if the same tick which bit your dog bites a member of your family, then that person will become infected.
This is why reducing the risk of your exposure and your dog's exposre to deer ticks, and eliminating the ticks from your home and environment is so crucial.
It is important to remember that when out and about humans run the same risk of picking up deer ticks as their dogs, however humans react differently to dogs when infected with borrelia bacteria.
People infected with Lyme diseas can contract shingles and vice versa. It is not uncommon for people who have shingles to develop Lyme disease a few weeks or months down the track.
Here are two very helpful and reassuring links to help people avoid the dangers of coming in contact with black legged ticks and Lyme Disease:
The first link is a PDF brochure issued by The New Forest District Council, Hampshire, U.K. It is an extremely interesting and informative publication appropriately titled "Just a Tick", which covers the "signs and symptoms" of Lyme disease and the "life cycle of the Deer tick" in relation to Lyme disease. Plus links to other similar European websites for those of you wishing to travel abroad.
How can I prevent my dog from catching Lyme Disease?
The best thing you can do for your dog is to minimise its risk of picking up deer ticks.
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