Ticks - Are You Ticked Off Lately? No, not you......your Rottweiler.....tick season is fast approaching in some areas. This will be the first of a series of articles about various parasites...what to look for...what to do if you find them freeloading on your Rottie and hopefully what you can do to prevent them. So let's try to 'tick' off a few ticks. First, you should learn a little about the enemy. A tick is a small-microscopic, eight-legged, often brightly colored bloodsucking parasite that will feed on your Rottweiler as well as YOU. They are closely related to mites and are in the class Arachnida, the same as spiders. Double YUK !! There are basically two types of ticks, those referred to as hard ticks (belonging to the family Ixodidae)--with mouthparts visible from above and hard scutes covering their body and those referred to as soft ticks (belonging to the family Argasidae)--with leathery bodies and mouthparts hidden. (I AM trying to keep this informative yet simple.. honest) In the typical life cycle, the female lays several thousand eggs that hatch into active six-legged larvae. These larvae feed on a host and develop into EIGHT-legged nymphs, which, in turn, feed and develop into the adult tick. Ticks can not only cause blood loss to any Rottweiler, but more importantly they can carry diseases--example, ROCKY MOUNTAIN SPOTTED FEVER, TULAREMIA in humans, and TOXOPLASMOSIS, along with some forms of ENCEPHALITIS, and SPIROCHETOSIS in our dogs, not to mention the little known and yet insidious LYME DISEASE in both our Rotties and us. There you have a basic understanding of what a tick is and what harm it represents, now lets talk about a little more about LYME DISEASE and those ticks that carry it. Lyme Disease is a mild to serious bacterial disease caused by the bacteria known as Borrelia burgdorferi. The name Lyme disease came from Lyme, Conn., the first place where it was recognized not too very long ago. Ticks that have been identified as carriers are now found in EVERY State and region. It used to be thought that those ticks that primarily reside on deer were the only guilty culprits.....not so folks......(refer to last months Chatter for photos and research study results indicating that ticks known to carry Lyme disease now include the American dog tick). Your Rottie can become the victim of a hitch-hiking tick virtually anywhere. What can happen if that tick on your dog carried the Lyme bacteria? Well....maybe nothing, but then again sometime within 2 to 5 months later, your Rottie may become temporarily lame for no apparent reason and he may or may not have a fever along with his lameness. An interesting fact to know though is that of the dogs exposed in an 'endemic' area only a small percentage ever develop symptoms. That's comforting to know you say, BUT WAIT, frightening is the fact that we humans can be bitten and not be aware of it until YEARS later after having developed a form of chronic arthritis from Lyme disease. The more researchers are learning about this particular disease the more insidious it appears to be. So what should you do to prevent these wretched little freeloaders from hitching a ride on your Rottie and then applying for a transfer over to you? Check with your local Veterinarian about insect repellants that can be used directly on your dogs. Some say AVON'S SKIN-SO-SOFT bath oil massaged directly into the skin of their Rotties acts not only as a successful repellant and makes their dogs smell good but helps prevent drying and itchy skin. Most important of all, and the part that your favorite king or queen of the canine world enjoys most is pet, rub, scratch and just run your fingers all over your Rottweiler. If you live in a rural or outer suburban area, do it everyday. If you are in the city, but attend dog shows, visit parks, go hiking etc., do it everytime you return home. A nightly session of checking your Rottweiler for possible ticks or any other problem can be a special quiet time for just you and your 'best friend'. Now for the good part....if I had told you this at first, you wouldn't have finished reading this column. There is a preventative vaccine now available for Lyme disease. I recommend whether you live in a rural area or not, why take the chance...VACCINATE your Rottweiler. You know the old saying, "an ounce of prevention...." Why don't you call your Veterinarian right now!