Not Another Tick Blog!

Saddle up Buckaroo, the Lone Star Tick has come to town. Yep, not kidding.

Last week a drug rep was in for a lunch and learn. She was selling us on her wares for tick control and kept mentioning that we were being invaded by the Lone Star. I was a bit skeptical, but of course I was skeptical about Deer Ticks in the area until we had over ten positive Lyme tests within two months last year.   

So, two days later I was examining a dog for his annual wellness exam and noted a small spot on the inside of an ear. On closer exam I saw it was a very small tick with a white/yellow star on it’s back. Yep, you guessed it, a female Lone Star.

The female Lone Star Tick is notable for the white spot on it's back, reminiscent of a star.

Yahoo, another tick species to deal with! The good news is that our tick preventatives are all effective against this bug. The bad news is the tick may carry Ehrlichia, giving us yet another tick-borne rickettsial disease, Ehrlichiosis. How’s that for a name!? This disease is managed and treated similar to Lyme disease. But, that’s about the only similarities. An acutely infected dog will have vague symptoms, fever, lethargy, and generalized swollen lymph nodes, among other more severe symptoms.  

A carrier tick will bite and inject the bacterium into the bloodstream. It invades the spleen, liver  and lymph nodes initially and eventually can damage arterial walls and affect the immune system such that the clotting system breaks down which could lead to micro hemorrhages throughout the body. This can lead to anemia and respiratory distress. The disease can also cause a meningitis and affect the balance mechanisms of the inner ear. It can also cause optic inflammation that can lead to blindness. In the chronic form, it may invade the bone marrow where all blood cells are made.  At this point the disease is potentially fatal.

Fun, huh?

Caught and diagnosed in a timely fashion, the disease is treatable and the dog will recover. But, this is a serious disease that will make a dog very, very and very, very miserable.  

So, here we go again. Yet another test to run during your dog’s annual wellness exam. This will make your visit a little more costly, but this test is well worth it.

Remember, tick prevention (along with flea prevention) is now a year round necessity. The climate is warming and Deer Ticks have actually been seen dancing across snow banks. Keep up the good work and enjoy your dog’s good health and call us with any questions. And, as always, please ask us before referring to Dr. Google.  

Dr. Jerry Miller, DVM



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