The life cycle of ticks. Source: CDC
From the mail bag: Deb asks, do you have any advice as to whether or not one should treat their dog with antibiotics if they find a tick on them? I found a tick on my GSD. He was treated with, I believe, doxycycline last year after I found six deer ticks on him. Thanks in advance for any advice.
Deb, the down and dirty answer is: While it’s not uncommon for a physician to prescribe a dose of doxycycline for a human bitten by a deer tick as a preventative, I don’t know of any vet who recommends that protocol for dogs. Your best bet is to take the tick to your vet to have it tested for Lyme.
Yes everyone, it’s that lovely time of year again when black-legged ticks AKA deer ticks make another big hurrah (springtime is the other time of year when they proliferate — though they can be active all year round). The nymphal stage of this tick is active during the late spring and summer, which makes them harder to see because they’re so small. In the northeast US, the adult stage ticks become abundant early in October, and they’ll stay active through the winter as long as the temperatures are above freezing and the ground isn’t frozen or covered by snow. Which means you should be checking yourself as well as your dog daily. And if you let your dog sleep on your bed, check that nightly as well.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind about deer ticks and Lyme disease. You can only get Lyme disease if you’re bitten by a tick that is a carrier of the disease-causing microbe. Black-legged (deer) ticks are the most common type of tick transmitting the Lyme disease bacterium from host to host. In most places in the northeast (where I live) as many as 20% of deer tick nymphs and 50% of adult females are infected. If you or your dog are bitten by a tick, remove it right away and identify it. Again, you can have it tested for infection to better assess your risk. Deer ticks attached for less than 24 hrs are not likely to have transmitted any infection.
My guys and I spend a lot of time outdoors so inevitably the dogs end up with ticks. I get them titered at least once a year, and twice a year if it’s a really bad tick year (which this year is). You don’t mention whether you use Frontline or a tick repellent. I have been using a combination of the rose geranium oil and neem oil sprayed on the dogs and it has helped quite a bit. But I have to spray it on every time we go for a walk.
For more information about my protocols you can read this article, and also don’t forget to check out the links on Lyme in my sidebar.