Did you know.....?

  • ticks can thrive in temperatures as low as 40 degrees
  • a tick's life cycle - from egg to larva, to nymph, to adult - can be anywhere from 2 months to 2 years
  • ​female ticks can lay between 2,000 and 18.000 plus eggs
  • ​the larva stage of the tick only has 6 legs
  • after the female has a blood meal, she detaches and drops to the floor to lay her eggs

What to do if you find a tick on your pet?

​First, you will want to remove it.   Use tweezers

to grasp the head close to the skin and pull gently.

 Wipe the area with a little soap and water to clean

it or a dab of antiseptic. Second, let us know that

you removed a tick from your pet and whether or not it was engorged with blood.  We will most likely want to run a tick test along with the annual heartworm test for your dog.  If your pet starts showing signs of illness, we will need that information to consider all possibilities of cause for the illness and run the appropriate tests.  Typically, pets do not show signs of illness from tick-borne disease for several weeks after being bitten.  If the area where you removed the tick from becomes red and swollen, contact us. It could be infected or the head/mouthparts could be embedded.

There are over 20 different species of ticks in Michigan.  Most of them are found feeding on wildlife and do not pose a threat to pets or people. However, there are a few that are known to bite people and pets and some of them carry diseases that can be life-threatening.  Ticks are in the arachnid family, related to spiders and scorpions.  They have 8 legs and no antennae, which differ from insects, which have 6 legs and 2 antennae.  They feed on the blood of hosts (wildlife, pets, people) and can take several days to complete a feeding, which means they can be attached to the host for several days, giving plenty of time to transmit bacteria carrying disease.

Different diseases can be carried by different kinds of ticks and are transmitted while they are attached for their blood meal.  Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease, Erlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis are among the diseases carried by ticks in Michigan.  These diseases have different threat levels in Western Michigan.  For example, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can be carried by the American Dog tick, the Lone Star tick, and the Brown dog tick but is not prevalent in Western Michigan.  However, Lyme disease is carried by the Black-Legged (deer) tick and the risks of contracting this disease, for both dogs and people, is on the rise.  The lakeshore is a high risk area for ticks carrying lyme disease and Kent County is just on the edge.  

JULY 2017

Have you noticed more ticks on your pets this summer?  Well, you’re not alone.   Predictions that the tick population would explode this year have proved true in many regions of the US, including Western Michigan.  Changing weather patterns and milder winters have been contributing factors.  What do you need to know to protect both your four-legged and two-legged family members from these parasites? We’ve got the info for you!

How do I protect my pets from ticks?

The best way to protect your pet from tick-borne diseases is to keep

them on a tick control program and to search your pet thoroughly after

being outside in risk areas.  Prompt removal of ticks greatly reduces the

chance of infection.  Lyme disease is our highest concern in West Michigan

for tick-borne disease. Clinical signs for Lyme disease in dogs include

lethargy, fever, joint/limb swelling, shifting lameness, and/or swollen

lymph nodes.  Many dogs do not show any sign of illness.  In some, signs

may be vague or not appear for several months after a bite from an in-

fected tick.  Kidney failure is also possible but less common.

Cats are highly resistant to the bacteria causing lyme

disease and rarely show signs of contracting it.  There are other diseases

that can be passed on to them by ticks and unfortunately, they are most

often fatal.  If your cat spends a lot of time outdoors, please talk with us

about what preventions are available and safe for your cat.

For our doggy patients, we carry these products and recommend them for tick prevention:

Vectra 3D
This is a topical product that is applied on the skin, from the base of the tail to the back of the head. It should be applied once a month for dogs 8 weeks and older, over 5 pounds.  Vectra works as a repellent to fleas and ticks, so they do not have to bite to die.   Vectra is designed to kill the tick before it can attach for its blood meal, therefore avoiding the possibility of disease transmission. 

This is an oral chew that is given with a meal and it lasts for 12 weeks (3 months).  Bravecto kills the American Dog tick, Brown dog tick, and Black-Legged tick (also kills Lone-Star tick for 8 weeks), as well as fleas. Ticks have to bite to die, but should die before disease can be transmitted.  Typically a tick will need to be latched on for at least 36 to 48 hours to pass on disease.  Bravecto is for dogs 6 months and older, over 4 pounds.

Scalibor Protector Band
The Scalibor Protector Band is a flea and tick collar that lasts for 6 months.  It is odorless and waterproof.  Scalibor kills the American Dog tick, Brown dog tick, Black-Legged tick, and Lone-Star tick. It reaches maximum protection after 2 to 3 weeks of continuous wear, as it relies on friction to spread over the skin.  This product repels and kills ticks before they bite. For dogs 9 weeks and older, no weight restrictions.  If you take your pet to areas with a high tick population, you may want to add this collar as an extra protection.

Brown dog tick



Where do ticks live?

  • Parks
  • Nature trails
  • Wooded areas
  • Grassy dunes
  • Campsites
  • Fields of tall grass
  • They can also be brought into urban areas by deer, raccoons, wild turkeys and coyotes, thriving in woodpiles and can easily be brought into your home by mice or small rodents

The "Take-Home" Message

To protect your furry four-legged family members as well as your two-legged ones:

  •  use a veterinarian recommended flea and tick prevention
  • search through your dog or cat's fur after they've been outside, looking for ticks that may be attached or just crawling on the fur
  • immediately remove any ticks that have latched on to your pet
  • notify your vet if you do find any ticks attached to your pet

​You can find more information about ticks in Michigan at <www.michigan.gov/emergingdiseases> or stop in here at Byron Center Animal Hospital and pick up a copy of 'Ticks and Your Health' booklet or a Michigan Tick ID card!  

As always, feel free to call us with any questions at 616-878-7387!