Since the weather warmed up this spring, you have probably noticed more and more of these awful little creatures. You might find them attached to your pet, on your pant leg or even attached to your skin. You probably know that they look like: a small head with a large body. We are, of course, talking about ticks, pesky little bloodsuckers that can bring diseases not only to your pets, but also to you. Ticks, even in Virginia, often carry tick-borne diseases that can make your pet very sick. They can cause weakness, fever, joint pain, weight loss, anemia and decreased platelets — which increases your pet’s chances for spontaneous bleeding! For some of the tick-borne diseases, your veterinarian can use an in-house “snap” test to evaluate for infection. Sometimes, blood work needs to be sent out to test for “titers,” or your pet’s level of response to the infection. For most of the tick-borne disease processes, if given early, antibiotics can take care of the infection, and your pet can make a full recovery. However, pets that are severely infected may require a stay in the hospital as well as significant medications, and may not respond as well to treatment. So if your pet is starting to become lethargic, is losing weight or is limping, please schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible!
With tick-borne disease, prevention is key. Multiple preventative tick and flea medications can be prescribed by your veterinarian. Most are monthly treatments that are easily administered to your pet. Please call your veterinarian today for recommendations. And remember, although some of the tick-borne diseases can be transmitted to humans (e.g., Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever), you cannot get the disease from your pet. Ticks have to attach directly to your skin in order for you to get the disease.
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