As the snow begins to melt, ticks begin to proliferate. Ticks are parasites that are in the same family as spiders, scorpions, and mites. Ticks live in grassy, brushy areas and are hungry this time of year. They will jump onto you and your pets with their eight legs. They burrow their head into skin and feed on the blood of the host. Ticks can be attached for days to the host and, while they are feeding, they make us and our pets sick via their saliva.

The most common tick found in Idaho is the Rocky Mountain Wood Tick. The diseases we commonly see in our region include Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, tick-borne relapsing fever, tick paralysis, and tularemia. The longer the tick is attached, the more likely they will transmit disease. Ticks and tick-borne diseases are increasing in number and geographic spread in the United States due to shorter winters and decreased snowpack. For more information regarding distribution of ticks and tick-borne illness in humans, visit the website for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention at

Common clinical signs associated with most tick disease are lethargy, fever, vomiting, diarrhea and depression. Tick paralysis is different in that it causes a progressive weakness in the legs that progresses to facial paralysis, voice changes, swallowing problems, and ultimately difficulty breathing. Most tick diseases are diagnosed based on a blood test; however, tick paralysis is diagnosed based on clinical findings. Most tick diseases are treated with antibiotics. Tick paralysis is treated simply by removing the tick and supporting the patient until clinical signs resolve. The sooner the disease is treated, the better the prognosis. Having your pet on preventative tick medication will prevent these diseases.

Load comments