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Most of us are familiar with ticks as the pesky little creatures that can carry and transmit Lyme Disease. Did you know that there are other diseases that they can transmit to our pets, and that ticks are not just seasonal but a year-round concern?

There are five major species or types of ticks that we are usually concerned with in our pets for transmitting disease.  While Lyme disease is the most common issue that most of us are familiar with, they can also carry other organisms. These can cause diseases that affect a dog’s platelets (cells that allow blood to clot), white blood cells, liver, and the muscular and nervous system!

Ticks are like heat seeking missiles in their quest to find a warm-blooded animal to feed on. They detect carbon dioxide from a nearby victim and crawl / grab onto the victim from the ground and start sucking blood and regurgitating it back into the victim. It is at this time the different organisms that cause diseases are transmitted. Yuck!!

In the past, the type of tick tended to be dependent on what part of the country you lived in and what time of year or season it was. All of this has gone out the window!  Ticks that used to be found mainly on the East Coast are now making their way west and vice versa.  Southern ticks like the Lone Star tick and the Gulf Coast tick are not staying in the area for which they were named and are making their way up north, some as far as Canada.  This means ticks are active all year round and there is at least one species active at all times!

To prevent our pets from having to deal with these pesky creatures and the diseases they carry, it is important to keep your dog on year-round flea and tick prevention.

Dr. Lisa Johnson, WCVC