If you spend time outdoors in the Central Coast, sooner or later you’re going to run into ticks on yourself or your family pets. So let’s learn a little about them, the risks that they pose, and how best to prevent them. As your integrative veterinarian in San Luis Obispo, we can help you eliminate this threat from your pet’s lifestyle. Permanently.
Nationwide, there is a huge epidemic in human cases of tick-borne diseases, which include the infamous Lyme disease but also lesser known threats like Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, and Rocky Mtn Spotted Fever. This increase in tick diseases is thought to be due to the fact that humans and wild mammals like deer are now coexisting more closely. We also have learned that dogs are infected at the same rates that humans are, while cats are rarely affected.
A recent study done at Cal Poly identified all ticks gathered over a 3 month period from undeveloped land, and found two different species of ticks present. About 98% of these ticks were Dermocentor species, while 2% were Ixodes. Why is this important to you? Because Dermocentor doesn’t carry diseases that are transmissible to people or pets (other than a bacterial infection due to the skin puncture), while Ixodes ticks can carry Lyme Disease and other serious medical risks for us and our pets. Put differently, 98% of the time the worst we will run into is a bacterial infection of a puncture wound, while 2% of tick bites could threaten our health and lives.
How do we tell the difference? For one thing, Dermocentor ticks are typically much larger than Ixodes. Dermocentor ticks also typically have brown legs, whereas Ixodes species typically have black legs. Both species are widely found on birds and wild mammals of all types, from rodents up to deer
While there are no pure tick preventives currently licensed for use in cats, there are three compounds for dogs that have shown consistently good results in both preventing infestation and killing ticks. These are, in order of effectiveness, amitraz (collars), permethrin (spray or spot on preparations), and fipronyl spot on preparations. Selamectin, the ingredient in Revolution, has limited activity against ticks, but the kill rate is much slower than the above compounds. This is important because studies have shown that if you kill or remove a tick within 48 hours of implantation, the tick is unlikely to spread disease.
At Mission Animal Hospital, we carry the best and safest tick preventives for your dog:
- SIMPARICA, a tasty tablet which will prevent fleas or ticks for one month.
- BRAVECTO, another chewable tablet which will prevent fleas and ticks for THREE months.