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Hot Time for Ticks

Mar 03, 2019 05:29PM ● By Louisa Asseo

Dr. Louisa Asseo, owner of Oasis Veterinary Hospital, 6635 Alhambra Ave, Suite 100, 925.954.8087

Hot Time for Ticks

By Dr. Louisa Asseo, Oasis


The rains have certainly made our hills a stunning display of greenery.  I am looking forward to leashing up my dogs, getting out in the sunshine, and hiking through our gorgeous open spaces.  If you and your canine friends are joining me out there, please make sure that your furry companion is protected against parasites. 

Spring is a hot time for ticks in our area. The Western Black-Legged Tick (Ixodes pacificus), Pacific Coast Tick (Dermacentor occidentalis), and American Dog Tick (Dermacentor variabilis) are the most common ticks encountered in the Bay Area. Ticks are not only creepy but can carry dangerous diseases to both you and your pet. Ixodes ticks are the primary carrier of Borrelia burgdorferi, which is the causative agent of Lyme disease.  Dermacentor ticks are known to transmit Rickettsia rickettsia, which causes Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Tularemia. 

Signs of these and other tick-borne diseases can be vague and non-specific. Some common signs include lameness, fever, decrease in appetite, lethargy, and fever.  If your pet is experiencing any of these signs, seek veterinary care immediately and notify your veterinary team that your dog has been exposed to ticks or has been in an area where ticks are common.  These diseases can be diagnosed on specialized blood tests if your veterinarian feels that your pet’s signs and exposure risk are suggestive of a tick-borne disease.  Specific antibiotics can be prescribed, if indicated, to help clear the bacterial infections causing these tick-borne diseases; however, sometimes curing the disease can be difficult. 

Preventing these diseases is dependent on preventing the tick from biting and passing the bacteria into your dog’s bloodstream.  Tick prevention is a critical component to keeping your dog healthy.  Always check your dog thoroughly after a hike and remove any ticks that you find.  Many options are available from your veterinarian.  The most effective options are oral flea and tick medications.  Alternatively, the Seresto collar is a preventative that your pet can wear around his or her neck to help repel ticks.  If you find a tick that is already attached to your pet, you can use commercial tick remover devices to gently detach the tick, or you can call your veterinarian and one of their trained team members can remove the tick for you. 

I hope you all enjoy this spring with all that our area has to offer.  Remember to keep your furry friends safe during this time to help them live a happy and healthy life by your side!