Keeping your dog and families safe from ticks

WEST HARTFORD – Warmer weather invites more ticks and they like to latch onto dogs putting pets and families at risk.

According to the CDC, when an infected tick bites a person or an animal, its saliva transmits infectious agents that can cause illness. Some ticks can even transmit multiple diseases.

The agency is noticing a steady increase in infections from tick-borne diseases across the U.S.

Dr. Jacqui Kubis with the Connecticut Veterinary Center said she’s seeing more pet owners come in the office, concerned with an uptick in the number of ticks.

She said clients started complaining as early as February and another mild winter is to blame.

“We have two seasons in a row where the ticks didn’t have a season to die,” Dr. Kubis said. “So, they’re flourishing pretty well.”
Dr. Kubis is anticipating a significant rise in Lyme Disease and other tick-borne diseases, this season, such as Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis which can transmit to people, as well.
"We’re hearing the new virus out there the Powassan,” she said. "That attachment, in less than 15 minutes, and you can come infected with that virus.”

She said these diseases and infections from ticks can lead to death in pets which is why it’s important to take steps to avoid them.

She recommends checking your pet often for ticks. She said ticks tend to hide in crevices, behind the ears, around the muzzle region, underneath the neck, in armpits and in the pets toes. Dr. Kubis said you can use a lint roller across a short haired dogs coat to catch anything running across it.

Look out for symptoms such as lameness, fever, inappetence, and lethargy. Dr. Kubis said some dogs come in appearing crippled because their joints hurt so bad.

"I’d rather prevent and be proactive than being reactive with the potential that we may not be able to save that animal,” she said.

Proactive measures include using a topical or oral medication. There are also medicated collars on the market for dogs, like Soresto, as well.

"My recommendation right now is the Nexgard. It’s an oral tablet it is very effective against both fleas and ticks," Dr. Kubis said.

In some cases she said you can use more than one medication, for example, if you’re using Nexgard and still finding ticks you can also use a Soresto collar. Dr. Kubis recommends visiting your vet before taking these measures.

Health officials are seeing a steady increase in infections from tick-borne diseases in the country. Connecticut officials are bracing for a bad year for ticks.

West Hartford based dog walker, David Steinberg with David’s Pet Services said his best piece of advice is to diligently check you and your dog for ticks.

He recommends walking your dog near low cut grass and roads, limiting exposure to wooded areas. He walks pets away from tall grass and high moisture areas, to be safe.

When walking your dog, Steinberg said it’s a good idea to wear long pants and high socks.

"Your dog’s experience with ticks is gonna directly affect you and the dog owner as well," Steinberg said.

He recommends keeping pets off beds and couches so they can’t transfer a tick from furniture to you.

If you do find a tick, place it in a plastic bag and bring it to a doctor to be tested.