Dog Health Issues - Description & Transmission of the Canine Lyme Disease Tick
The Deer Tick (Ixodes scapularis) transmits Lyme disease. These ticks are the small, wingless, external parasites. The carrier of Lyme Disease is the white-footed mouse which in turn infects the tick. This particular species of tick, the Deer Tick, that transmits Lyme disease is a Hard Shell tick.
Ticks - Blood Suckers
Ticks feed by sucking the blood of their hosts (our dogs). They have a device in their mouth which allows them to anchor themselves firmly in place while sucking blood. Forcefully pulling a tick out from under the skin can leave the head behind.
Quick removal of the tick will help prevent canine Lyme Disease because the tick must remain attached to the dogís body for at least one day before the disease can be transmitted. Care must be taken to remove a tick because forcefully pulling a tick out from under the skin often leaves the head behind. Careless squeezing of the tick may also force any bacteria from the tick into the bloodstream. The application of irritants such as lighted cigarettes, matches, alcohol, nail polish, or vaseline can also have the same effect. The recommended process to remove a tick is as follows:
- Do not use your fingers to remove a tick
- You can use tweezers but preferably use special tick removal instruments
- Grasp the tick as near to the skin as possible
- Pull firmly, steadily and straight - no jerking or twisting movements
- To kill the tick place it in alcohol
- Save the tick for identification
- Clean the bite wound with an antibiotic ointment
After removing a tick there may be some swelling, due to the tick's toxic saliva, which can take up to one week to disappear. In some instances permanent scarring may also occur.
Dog Health Problems - Symptoms of Canine Lyme Disease
Lyme Disease is marked by a variety of symptoms which can include the following:
- Lack of appetite
- Lack of energy
- Inflamed Joints
- Swollen Lymph Nodes
Heart disease, Kidney disease and disorders of the nervous system may result from the disease.
Lyme Disease Control - The Human Hazard
Lyme disease is far more serious for people than for dogs. It is therefore important to eliminate ticks by removing them from the dog and the environment by using appropriate insecticides. Understanding more about the 'enemy', such as its anatomy and life cycle, will help you to combat the threat of ticks.
Hard Shell Ticks that transmit Lyme Disease
Hard Shell Ticks are named Ixodidae and possess the hard outer covering, or shells, made of chitin. Hard ticks embed themselves underneath the skin of a host for long periods of time. Hard, or Ixodid ticks, have three hosts, one for each stage of the life cycle (larvae, nymph and adult), but in some species this has been reduced to just one. Hard ticks need several days to feed, and once the female is engorged she drops from the host to lay many thousands of eggs. Studies have shown that Hard ticks have amazing longevity and have been observed to live for many years and through long periods of starvation.
The Anatomy of Lyme Disease Ticks
Young Ticks have three pairs of legs the adult tick has four pairs of legs. They are wingless and so they crawl but cannot fly. Ticks possess a sensory pit called Haller's organ situated on the first tarsus (toe). This structure senses odor, heat and humidity. Haller's organ enables ticks to locate their food source.
The Habitat of Lyme Disease Ticks
Ticks are at their most prevalent in the Spring. They climb upon tall grass and when they sense an animal is close by (by use of the Haller's organ, they crawl on. They will often drop off of the host when full, but the feeding process may take several days.
The Life Cycle of Lyme Disease Ticks
All Ticks have four stages to their Life Cycle:
- Egg - Eggs are laid on the ground until they hatch into larvae
- Larvae (seed tick) - sense an animal, its first host, and attaches itself to begin feeding and when full they fall to the ground. The larvae then 'molts' into the next stage
- Nymph - it senses an animal, its second host, and attaches itself to begin feeding. When full they fall to the ground. The Nymph then 'molts' into the final adult stage of its life cycle
- Adult - attaches itself to its third host begins feeding when full they fall to the ground. The male ticks then die. The female ticks lay eggs in the Spring