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Ticks 101

July 22nd, 2011, 10:14 AM
So they have found ticks here in Calgary carrying the lyme disease bacteria :cry2:. We have never really had a tick problem here. I am wondering what is the best way to deal with this issue. How the heck do you inspect for something that tiny on a hairy dog :shrug:? I have inspected his underbelly, pits, groin, pads and ears they look good. We had just discovered a new off leash place to run...with tall grass and some bushes which I guess I should now avoid (bummer). I would sure appreciate any tips and advice from those of you who deal with this on a regular basis...sort of a ticks 101 if you will.:confused:

July 22nd, 2011, 01:11 PM
Have they run any studies on what percentage of ticks carry the disease? Are there a lot of ticks in your area? Have they only seen cases of Lyme's disease or are other diseases present?

Typically, the deer tick (reddish body, dark collar) is the one that carries most of the diseases here. We run into them mostly in spring and fall. The dog or wood tick (dark with a white-mottled collar) will also attach and take a blood meal, but seems to be implicated in fewer diseases. Conventional wisdom says if you find the tick within the first 24 hours of attachment, no disease can be transferred. Not sure I believe that--we're beginning to think that it only takes 12 hours for anaplasma transmission. :frustrated: At any rate, to my knowledge, only the deer tick has been implicated in Lyme's transmission here.

In areas where tick numbers are fairly low, avoidance is a good tactic. Despite the name, wood (dog) ticks like wetter, lush long-grassy areas, not woods. Deer tick like the shrubby underlayer in a forest or brushy areas in a more open landscape. So avoiding the areas of brush can keep you out of the worst deer tick areas.

Getting a fine-toothed flea comb and using it after taking Chum for an outing may find some ticks. They'll often end up in the scruff of the neck, on the head, or in the feathered area on the hind legs, so those are good areas to check with the comb. If you find one, assume that there are more and use a topical to kill them.

Tick collars, in our experience, aren't very effective and some may be dangerous to your dog's health...

Some people use natural or homeopathic remedies, but we've never used them so I can't speak to their effectiveness. Treating regularly with topical preventives, however, has been a very effective way to control ticks for us.

If you miss a tick and it attaches, you may eventually feel a small lump somewhere under Chum's fur and when you investigate, you'll find the tick. If you bring the tick to your vet, they may be able to test it to see if it's infected.

Symptoms to watch for that might mean an infection: rotating lameness (a limp that moves from limb to limb over time), lethargy, grumpiness, loss of appetite, fever. Seems like a lot of tick diseases cause very recognizable patterns in a CBC. Anaplasmosis, for example, will result in low-normal or low WBC and platelets, so if we see any symptoms and that pattern in the blood count, we start treatment even before the titer results come back. (Idexx labs puts out a snap test that checks for heartworm, Lyme's, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis, and gives almost immediate results, but if ticks are just arriving in your area your vet may not have it available.) Treatment is with doxycycline, at least two weeks worth and longer for tough cases.

I've seen stats indicating that up to 80% of the deer ticks tested in this part of the state could be positive for the organism that causes Lyme's. Haven't seen anything recent for the percentage carrying Anaplasma, but anaplasmosis is on the rise. We live in Tick Central USA here and sometimes in fall we'll pick upwards of 50 to sometimes a couple hundred ticks off the dogs if we have them out on a run. In that kind of environment, we've relied on the heavy artillery, so to speak, and treat the dogs every 3 wks during our long tick season with Frontline or Frontline Plus. It's reportedly losing its effectiveness in some southern states but still works well for us (:fingerscr and running fervently through my anti-jinx routine :D).

After an outing, we often see ticks climb out of our dogs' fur--they're reacting to the Frontline and are trying to get away. We've never had one of those fleeing ticks try to reattach elsewhere--they've already gotten a lethal dose of the stuff and will die soon. But nothing is 100% effective, and we've had ticks stay attached long enough to pass on anaplasmosis. :frustrated:

Did I cover about everything you were wondering about? :o I mean, other than about the obvious 'ick' factor? :yuck: Even after all this time and being desensitized by seeing so many, finding one still makes me itch. :p

July 22nd, 2011, 04:04 PM
we've had them here for years, I normally take my brush and give brina a quick brushing paying close attention to her snout, ears and "armpits", if a tick does attach itself and I don't notice, I have a "tick" twister (bought at the vets) and my daughter removes them, I dab on alcohol. we do buy advantage plus.

July 22nd, 2011, 04:56 PM
Did I cover about everything you were wondering about?
Great info...thanx...not sure what percentage have tested positive for the bacteria...but then I tend to panic over anything that might threaten my fur baby...LOL
if a tick does attach itself and I don't notice, I have a "tick" twister (
Checked out the tick twister video on you tube..thanx for that... now at least I know what an attached tick looks like ( somewhat larger than I had pictured) nifty little unit, i will have to pick one up just in case...thanx so much guys:crazy::thumbs up:dog:

July 23rd, 2011, 02:23 AM
I really hate ticks :(

Just a quick note...

The Advantage products are only for fleas, you want the Advantix products for ticks and fleas, if you are going to use the topical. I've been experimenting with some essential oil sprays that I make from the Mad About Organics products, but I don't know if they are good enough to recommend yet.

You really aren't supposed to twist ticks to remove them, they regurgitate more potentially diseased material into the wound. With tweezers, or other tick removal equipment, just pull straight out.

We have mostly dog ticks around here, they are much easier to see, but they carry a number of bad diseases too :(

Good luck!

July 23rd, 2011, 05:35 AM
Maxalisa, you really don't "twist" persay....and its a tool the vet uses and shows you how to do it

July 24th, 2011, 01:55 AM
I saw the video on the website, they twisted it continuously until the tick came out. I could see how you could use the tool though to pull directly out.

July 24th, 2011, 11:28 AM
A month ago we went to Long Point provincial park that also has ticks that are lyme carriers potentially. A few days after we found a tick on our guy, we went to the vet and they removed it, checked him thoroughly for any hidden ticks and then sent the tick off for a dna test that shows whether or not its a lyme disease carrier - our insurance did cover the dna test which was a pleasent surprise.

you have to be careful when you remove a tick because if the body rips off and the head stays it may increase chance of infection...

July 24th, 2011, 11:41 AM
They also sell 'tick spoons' that are very useful in tick removal. It's a plastic spoon with a little "V" cut into the lip. You slide the "V" on either side of the tick's 'neck' so that the tick is inside the spoon, then just lift if straight up. They work really well :thumbs up I don't think we've missed a head since we've been using them. And they're cheap!

July 24th, 2011, 11:18 PM
If you find an attached tick and don't have any fancy gadgets to remove it, I have used tooth floss to successfully remove them. Get a 12" length, make a granny knot in the middle but don't pull it tight. Slide the loop of the knot down over the tick's butt, over the tick's head and down all the way to the dog's skin. Gently tighten the knot and bit, put both ends of the floss into one hand, and slowly pull straight out from the dog's body. You actually have to pull quite hard! Works well. =]

July 25th, 2011, 11:30 PM
This is a very good link:

You can send a tick in yourself for testing, you don't have to bring it in to your vet. (see above link) I have done that once a couple months ago but haven't heard any thing back.

I have one of these in my first aid kit:
although mine is a different brand, it's the exact same design. I got it at Mountain Equipment Coop. I have used it once already and it was super easy to use and worked very well.

For anyone who hasn't had to do this, it is quite surprising just how hard you have to pull to get the bugger out.

July 26th, 2011, 09:05 AM
Tick spoon: $2.25 at the local vet...


Slip the V-notch around the point of attachment along the animal's skin and pull up :thumbs up

July 26th, 2011, 09:30 AM
Thanx to everyone for all the helpful info. I will be making a pitstop at the vet's today to see what kind of tools they have to offer. It is always great to get the skinny from people who know (and aren't just trying to sell you a product!!) All the advice is much appreciated:thumbs up:thumbs up:D:dog:

July 26th, 2011, 10:38 AM
That's one of the (many) things this board is wonderful. I hadn't even thought about ticks, but thanks to this thread I'll be more careful about watching for them from now on.