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Protecting dogs from ticks infected with multiple diseases

Source: Veterinary Practice News

Protecting dogs from the dangers of ticks is one of the most difficult challenges we face in modern veterinary medicine. While preventing fleas is a relatively straightforward process for both veterinarians and pet owners, ticks pose a series of threats all their own.

Unlike fleas, which present primarily as one predictable species (the cat flea), ticks come in a variety of species, each threatening pets with a unique set of behaviors, feeding habits and seasonality. And, as opposed to fleas who are predictably sensitive to the isoxazoline class of drugs, ticks vary in their susceptibility to active ingredients. For instance, the Lone Star tick is notoriously much harder to kill than many other tick species1.

Additional tick traits that make them difficult to control:

  • Unlike fleas, ticks spend the majority of their lives off of the host in the environment
  • Reproduction happens primarily on wildlife (and not on pets), so their reproduction is extremely difficult to control
  • They are resistant to adverse environments and conditions
  • They are able to adapt to many habitats and expand into new territories
  • Ticks can parasitize a wide variety of hosts
  • They have complex life cycles
  • Even more challenging is the number of diseases ticks can simultaneously carry. Because ticks have multiple life stages that each requires a blood meal from a different host, by the time a tick has reached adulthood, it has already had two blood meals from two different hosts that each could have been carrying a disease like Anaplasmosis, Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis or Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
  • In other words, as a tick matures through its life cycle, it has the ability to accumulate a variety of disease agents that it can then infect a pet with as it feeds. For that reason, it’s important to think beyond just one tick-borne disease and its transmission time to consider the multiple diseases a tick may pass on.

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