Why Do Ticks Suck So Bad?
Ticks are a growing concern in the United States. Changing migration patterns, climate patterns, deforestation, and warmer winters are leading to more ticks in wider spread areas and are making them a year-round pest in most of the country. These parasites that can be as small as poppy seeds will attach to mammals and feed off of their blood. Unfortunately, that’s not the worst they can do; they’re also responsible for spreading a long list of serious diseases that can be contracted by both humans and animals.
What Diseases Do Ticks Carry?
The most common diseases carried by ticks include:
- Lyme Disease
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Why It's Tough to Get Ahead of Ticks and Lyme Disease
Lyme disease comes from a type of bacteria called spirochetes. Outer surface proteins comprise the exterior of the bacteria, and these proteins change and adapt, depending on the environment. While inside a tick that’s not feeding, the bacterial proteins are different from when the tick is feeding, and they change after a tick feeds and the bacteria enter a mammal.
The Good News for Your Dog
A very technologically-novel vaccine has been developed that attacks the Lyme bacteria while they are still in the tick. The vaccine targets the protein that is present in the bacteria when it is still in the tick, leading to destruction of the bacteria while still in the tick, thus blocking transmission into the mammal’s blood.
Why Your Dog Can Get a Lyme Disease Vaccination, but You Can't
A Lyme disease vaccine, called LYMErix, for humans was available and on the market briefly in the 1990s and 2000s. It was pulled from the market largely due to the poor timing of its release, which closely coincided with the beginnings of the anti-vaccine movement and false reports that linked autism to the MMR vaccine. Although it was successful and initially administered to a large group of people, it’s sales plummeted following the onslaught of negative media. Two pharmaceutical companies are currently devoting resources to the development of a human-grade Lyme vaccine, but it’s not clear when they’ll be available.
Ask our Veterinarians How to Protect Your Dog from Tick-Borne Illness
The best way to protect your pets from ticks and all of the diseases they carry is with tick preventatives. These come in the form of topical treatments, oral tablets, and medicated collars. Depending on the size and species of the pets in your household and whether you also have small children, our veterinarians can help you choose a tick preventative that will be safe for the whole family. For more advice regarding Lyme Disease vaccines, Lyme Disease testing, and tick prevention, please ask our veterinarian at your dog’s next wellness appointment.