The tick two-year

Life Cycle

Ticks and their hosts

From egg to larva to nymph to adult stages, the Ixodes tick vector needs several intermediate hosts to complete its two-year life cycle.

  1. Larva lies dormant in the winter, but in the spring, the six-legged tick larva matures into the eight-legged nymph and begins feeding on infected reservoir hosts, such as a mouse, and becomes infected. It is this mouse-tick-mouse cycle that maintains the Borrelia burgdorferi organism.
  2. Ticks then carry the organism with them as they move through their various life cycles, eventually infecting other wildlife species such as deer and small mammals, and ultimately infecting accidental hosts such as humans and dogs.
  3. The nymph and adult stages of the Ixodes life cycle are the most likely to transmit Lyme disease in dogs. When the tick bites the new host, Borrelia organisms are regurgitated from the gut, secreted from salivary glands and injected into the dog's skin.
  4. Because the tick lives on multiple hosts during its life stages, the Borrelia burgdorferi organism is spread among various populations of small mammals, deer and ultimately dogs and humans.
  5. The size of a sesame seed or smaller, nymphs and adult ticks are extremely hard to find, especially when they hide in a dog's coat. This is why pet owner tick checks are seldom 100 percent complete and why compliance may be low.
  6. Preventing canine Lyme disease requires a comprehensive Lyme disease control program including tick prevention, tick checks and Lyme disease vaccination.
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Lyme disease
has been
found in all 10
The threat of Lyme disease is probably greater in dogs than in humans
Dogs will often show no signs of Lyme disease


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