There are lots of bugs out there. They all have a purpose in the eco-system but unfortunately some of them are not so good for our pets.

Although ticks are commonly thought of as insects , they are actually arachnids like scorpions, spiders, and mites. Ticks have four pairs of legs as adults and have no antennae. Ticks are also efficient carriers of disease because they attach firmly when sucking blood, feed slowly, and may go unnoticed for a considerable time while feeding. Ticks can take several days to complete feeding.

Ticks can carry a variety of diseases that can cause problems in our four legged friends. One of the most common diseases in our area from tick attachment and feeding is Lyme Disease.

An infected deer tick transmits the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria through the skin when it bites. Most dogs and people don’t even feel the bite, which is why the tick can remain undiscovered. After the initial bite through the skin, the tick secretes “cement” to anchor to its host where it’s difficult to remove. Then, it begins to take in it’s blood meal 30 minutes later.

Unlike most other insect bites, the tick’s bite is painless and non-irritating because its saliva contains:

  • anesthetic to numb and reduce pain
  • antihistamine to reduce allergic reaction or itching
  • anticoagulant to enhance blood flow
  • anti-inflammatory to reduce swelling
  • immunosuppressant to help aid in the transmission of pathogens

Infection does not happen immediately

The deer tick is very slow in transmitting the bacteria to dogs -only after the tick is partially engorged – 24 to 48 hours after attaching to the dog. The slow transmission of the disease shows the importance of checking your dog for ticks after being outside, even in your own backyard.

Dogs become infected with Lyme disease from the bite of an infected Ixodes tick called “the deer tick.” The tick must be infected with a specific bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi for your dog to get canine Lyme disease. This bacteria is what actually causes canine Lyme disease – the tick is just the transmitter or “vector” for the bacteria. Dogs don’t get Lyme disease from other dogs or people. Dogs can get Lyme disease anywhere there are infected ticks, such as wildlife areas or their own backyards which is why the Lyme vaccination is so important.

Assessing the risk for your dog to get Lyme disease is a combination of where you live, your dog’s lifestyle, and your dog’s overall health . While many dogs are at risk in their own backyards because of where they live, others may have hunting or travel lifestyles that put them at risk. Understanding the risk in your local area is important.

The breed of your dog is not an important risk factor. Big or small, couch potato or hunting dog, any dog can be at risk. Whenever and wherever dogs come in close contact with ticks – usually wildlife areas where mice and deer live – the risk of exposure to Lyme disease is great.

A very important measure is consistent monthly preventatives against ticks. These products are available at Animal Family and include Frontline Plus and Nexgard. Ask which product will work best for you. The bottom line is by staying proactive in your pet’s care and monthly preventative care, you can decrease the risk of severe disease and tick infestation that could affect them their entire life.

Information for this blog was compiled from , a great source of information for canine Lyme disease.

Recent Posts

About Us

Animal Family Veterinary Care offers an extensive range of services all in one place, so we can meet your pet’s needs in almost every situation. Our veterinarians in Davenport treat dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, and a variety of other exotic species, because every pet is unique and important.