May 12, 2020, 7:27 PM
Ticks are blood-sucking arachnids that are responsible for spreading a variety of diseases. Although they cannot either jump or fly, ticks attach themselves to its host when either a person or an animal brushes past it, a behavior known as ‘questing.’ These parasites carry and transmit a wide array of pathogens that causes diseases such as Lyme Disease, Ehrlichiosis, and Babesiosis. In addition to these, a recent study from IDEXX Laboratories, have brought to light evidence suggesting that tick-infection can also give rise to kidney disorders in dogs. The research conducted on both healthy as well as symptomatic dogs pointed to the fact that - in dogs exposed to Lyme Disease, there was a 43% risk of developing CKD. At the same time, for those suffering from Ehrlichiosis, the number jumps up to 112%. With these alarming numbers in mind, here are some useful tips to know when your pets are infected by ticks and what you should do in this regard.
How to Spot a Tick
Ticks can vary in size ranging from 1mm up to 1cm long, and the smaller ones can be incredibly difficult to spot. More often than not, pet owners know that their pets are infected only when they spot a small lump on the animal’s skin when they run their hand over it. Apart from routine veterinary check-ups, it is also the only effective way to identify tick-infection.
Why is it Important to Remove Ticks?
As a parasitic animal, ticks attach themselves onto the body of a host animal and feast on its blood. In this process of feeding, they can pass on infectious microbes that can diseases, from one animal to another. Not every tick carries infection, but they’ll need to be removed from your pet so that it does not breed in your home. Based on the extent of the infection, you can choose to either do it yourself or consult a veterinary clinic. However, under no circumstances should you try to pull or scrape the tick off your pet’s body.
Why Consult a Veterinarian for Tick Infection?
All pet owners should make it a habit to get their pets checked at a veterinary clinic annually. In most cases of tick infection, the animal will not show any visible signs of infection as soon as it occurs. A veterinary clinic will have in place advanced testing tools such as the IDEXX SNAP® 4Dx® Plus, a complete pet-side test to find tick-transmitted infections, and hence can screen the animal for all infections thoroughly.
Symptoms of Tick-borne Diseases
For any tick-borne disease, the primary symptoms may include fever and fatigue. If the animal has Lyme Disease, in addition to the symptoms mentioned previously, you may also notice that it has become lethargic and has also lost its appetite. However, in dogs with antibodies to tick-borne diseases, there may not be any visible signs of infection.
What if my Pet is Tested Positive for Tick Infection?
If your pet has tested positive for tick infection, your veterinarian will follow up on the initial test with routine blood work and urinalysis using specialized kits such as the IDEXX SDMA Catalyst test kit. They may also choose to monitor the animal’s kidney function with the IDEXX SDMA® Test to catch early signs of CKD in at-risk pets.
What if my Pet has Tested Negative?
If your pet has tested negative, then it indicates that all the preventive measures you’ve taken have paid off. However, be sure to take the pet for annual veterinary check-ups to keep it as healthy and happy as it can be.