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!