When it's winter you might not think too much about ticks, but ticks are out there. Local veterinarians are seeing more pets come in with ticks this winter.
Liz Graham's daughter found a tick on the family's yorkshire terrier Rosie in November. "My daughter was rubbing (Rosie) and felt a knot so I looked and sure enough it was a deer tick," Liz Graham said. She removed the tick herself.
Then, two months later, this past weekend, Rosie had a seizure. "She's doing okay," Graham said. "She seems to have recovered form the seizure but the vet has a good feeling that the seizure was probably causd by the tick bite."
Rosie is one of many dogs who has suffered from a tick bite this season.
"We're seeing a good many ticks right now," said Doctor Erika Henson, a veterinarian with Brambleton Veterinary Hospital in Roanoke County. "We're taking a lot off."
Dr. Henson estimates her office has seen four or five dogs a week. "It's more than we normally see," she said.
Perhaps it's because this winter has been warmer than normal, but Dr. Henson said in Virginia ticks can live year round. Many times they live under leaves.
Your best defense is to use a topical prevention on your dog and check your pets for ticks every day. "In order to get tick diseases the tick has to be attached for six to eight hours to transmit it so it doesn't happen right away," said Dr. Henson. "If you catch it early and remove it then they won't get Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or Lyme disease."
Like many pet owners, Liz Graham stopped using tick medication on her dog late last fall. "As a result maybe that's why she got the tick but I didn't think they'd be around that time of year since it was cold," Graham said.
Now she'll make sure to use tick prevention on Rosie year round.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can be fatal if not treated early. If your dog has a tick watch for symptoms which can include enlarged lymph nodes, fever, red dots inside the dogs' mouth and limping. It's best to see your veterinarian if you suspect your dog is sick.