by Andrea Mykrantz, CVT

Photography credit: Glen Needham

For years, we Ohioans have not had to worry about contracting Lyme disease as long as we stayed in-state. As with everything, times are changing and Ohio is now home to the Deer Tick, or more commonly known as the Blacklegged Tick. The BLT (Blacklegged Tick) is the only tick that transmits Lyme disease to us and our pets.

Fun Facts: Between 1989 and 2009, fewer than 50 BLTs were identified in Ohio. In 2010 alone, that number climbed to more than 70 and just last year, the total identified was more than 180; plus more than 1,800 were discovered attached to deer heads in 25 different counties. This brings concern to many of us for our own safety as well as our pets. (Columbus Dispatch 4/1/2012, Dave Golowenski)

Of course a first line of defense should be a reliable tick prevention product purchased from your veterinarian. At Best Friends we recommend either Frontline Plus or TriTak for flea and tick control. In Ohio the worst months for ticks are typically late March through July. However, it is important to note that the BLT is active all year round. Those of us who like to hike or camp with our dogs should take special care to avoid tall grasses and wooded areas. If this is not possible be sure to examine yourself and your dog closely and remove any ticks as soon as you find them. A tick needs to remain attached for between 12 and 48 hours (depending of the tick) to be able to transmit disease. Unfortunately, the BLT is much smaller than the typical ???dog tick??? we are used to seeing. To add even more concern to the mix, the nymph stage of the BLT is so small it will probably go completely undiscovered and if your dog is not properly protected and the nymph is allowed to feed it is likely your dog will become infected with Lyme disease.

The largest tick is your typical American dog tick, the three smaller ticks are all Blacklegged ticks; the largest is a female, the medium sized one is a male and the very tiny, transparent tick is a nymph. I’m sure you can appreciate how difficult this stage in particular would be to locate on a furry pet!

If you find that your dog seems to be a magnet for ticks despite monthly prevention the next item to consider is the Lyme Disease Vaccination. The initial vaccine can be administered at any time (as long as your dog is 9 weeks or older) and needs to be boostered two to four weeks later. Annual boosters are recommended for as long as the threat of ticks remains. For our ???at risk??? patients our last recommendation is annual testing for tick borne disease. Despite reliable tick prevention products and proper vaccination, sometimes disease can break through our defenses. If your dog is at risk for any tick borne diseases, including Lyme disease, we would recommend upgrading your yearly heartworm test to a 4DX test. This test not only looks for the presence of heartworm disease but it also checks for the presence of the three main tick borne diseases seen in Ohio; Lyme Disease, Anaplasmosis and Erlichiosis. When caught early these diseases are all generally easy to treat and carry a good outcome with full recovery from symptoms. If left untreated Lyme disease can result in debilitating disease, which is why we are about prevention and early detection!

As always we encourage your questions and aim for the best health for your pets. If you have any questions do not hesitate to call the office (614) 889-7387 and speak to any of our knowledgeable Veterinary Technicians.

Ohio-Tick-Spot-ID photo credit Glen Needham