16-44-56-964_640If you are a dog owner in Minnesota, you’re probably concerned about finding ticks on your dog. Not only are ticks creepy but they carry health risks too. Ticks in the Plymouth area commonly carry diseases like Lyme, Anaplasma and even Ehrlichia, which can cause fever, joint swelling, lethargy, depression, neurologic symptoms and even blood clotting disorders. Using tick prevention is very important to keep your dog healthy.

Ticks are looking for hosts to take a blood meal from anytime the temperature is above freezing. At Northwest Animal Hospital, we tend to see more ticks coming out the first week of March, however, we do see ticks year round, even in the winter if the temperature is above freezing. Anytime there is even a blade of grass poking through the snow, dogs are at risk for tick exposure.

Ticks “quest” or look for new hosts to feed on by climbing onto blades of grass and holding out their front pair of legs. When they sense body heat or odors, they jump onto their host, insert their mouthparts into the skin and begin to feed. Because dogs are close to the ground and often running through the leaves and grasses where ticks are questing, they are often the first host the tick finds. Once the tick inserts it mouthparts through the skin, it begins to secrete saliva which contains bacteria like Lyme, Anaplasma and Ehrlichia

The bacteria that causes Lyme can be transmitted through tick saliva to a dog within 12-24 hours of the tick beginning to feed. The bacteria that cause Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis however, can be transmitted within 3 hours. So, in order to prevent tick-borne diseases from affecting your dog, it is crucial to kill ticks immediately, or even better, to prevent ticks from attaching in the first place.

There are a lot of tick prevention products available on the market so choosing the best one for your pet can be a challenge. In the last few years, pills that are given orally have been developed for tick control. These oral medications like Nexgard and Bravecto are convenient but they do not prevent ticks from attaching to your dog. Oral tick control requires the tick to insert its mouthparts in the dog’s skin to take a blood meal before it will kill the tick. If the tick isn’t killed quickly enough, diseases like Lyme, Anaplasma and Ehrlichia can infect your dog. Studies looking at the efficacy and speed of tick kill for one of the oral tick products show that within two weeks of administering the monthly medication, less than 1/3 of ticks were killed within the 12 hour mark which means that Lyme, Anaplasma and Ehrlichia have already had a chance to infect your dog.

At Northwest Animal Hospital, we recommend Vectra 3D, a monthly topical tick prevention that contains a repellant medication combined with a tick killing medication. It not only kills ticks, fleas, mosquitoes and biting flies, it prevents up to 80% of them from even jumping on to your dog. The small percentage of ticks that do land on your dog’s fur are immediately affected by the medication and are unable to walk or attach to the skin. Within minutes, the ticks fall off your dog and die, rendering them unable to affect your family or other pets.

When deciding on the best tick prevention, it is important to consider what you are using a tick prevention for. If you truly want the product to help prevent your dog from getting infected with a tick-borne disease, make sure you use a product that can prevent ticks from attaching to your pet. In order for the product to prevent Lyme, Anaplasma and Ehrlichia, it needs to have a repellant property so the ticks never have a chance to bite and attach to your dog. At Northwest Animal Hospital, we recommend topical products because we feel that the safety and disease prevention of the topical medications by far outweighs the minor inconvenience of using a topical product.