Strong but painless bite
An infected Ixodes tick (deer tick) transmits the Borrelia burgdorferi
bacteria through the skin by a strong but painless bite. Most people and dogs do not even
feel the bite, which is why the tick can remain undiscovered.
After the initial bite through the skin, the tick secretes "cement" to anchor to its host
where it is difficult to remove. Then, it begins to take in its blood meal 30 minutes
But amazingly, unlike most other insect bites, the tick's bite is painless and
non-irritating, because its saliva contains:
- An anesthetic to numb and reduce pain
- An antihistamine to reduce allergic reaction or itching
- An anticoagulant to stop bleeding
- An anti-inflammatory to reduce swelling
- An immunosuppressant to help aid in the transmission of the pathogens
It's no mystery why we're unaware we've been bitten by a tick!
Infection does not happen immediately
The blacklegged tick is very slow in actually transmitting the bacteria to dogs - about eight
hours. This slow transmission of the disease demonstrates the importance of checking your
dog for ticks after being outside, even in your own backyard. Brush your dog and look for
ticks. Talk with your veterinarian about a comprehensive tick-borne disease prevention
program including Lyme vaccination.
back to top