Let's get serious for a moment folks traveling with their 4 legged friends, especially in north Cali!
While Baron was in the Redwoods, through our many days hiking he sadly pick up a tick. First off dumb me because I wasn't even looking for them because the weather wasn't that warm and I didn't think it was the season for them yet (talking late Feb). However, with a warmer winter they never really went away and being someone not familiar with the area I likely overlooked something that the locals all knew. This is why I am sharing my experience because as a person roaming you are maybe just like myself and might be caught in a situation where you just don’t know of something because it isn’t where you normally roam.
As I have learned now many northern Cali ticks, unlike some other areas have a higher risk for Lyme and other tick diseases, and because of Baron's fur they are very hard to see. In Alberta where I’m from although we have ticks and there are some testing positive for Lyme, the risk is still pretty low. We also have other tick diseases like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which has such a low risk you don’t hear much about it. When it comes to Lyme there are 3 areas in the US where ticks carrying Lyme is quite high and where we happened to be was one of them, I was just unaware.
For Baron and I it wasn’t until a few days later we were sitting and eating and I looked down at his paw and noticed that there was a tick that had latched on between his toes. I nearly lost it and because I was eating sort of wanted to throw up. I had a range of emotions, but most of all I was worried … what do I do?
Because we do have ticks here in Alberta and I have read about it before I did know there was a right and a wrong way to remove a tick so I did my best. After removing the tick I ended up taking him to the vet just to be sure I did everything right. Just know if you remove the tick yourself be sure to put it in a jar so it can be sent away for testing. This right here can save a lot of worry.
Many tick diseases show right away with blood work, luckily Baron tested negative for those, however Lyme is a beast and normally doesn't show until 4 wks - 6 mon. The best way to know is to send the tick away to be tested. If it comes back negative for Lyme, you're all clear and no need to worry, but if it is positive it turns into a waiting game to see if they'll contract it.
Sadly in our case that tick tested positive. It's been just over 3 months now and Baron has been tested twice both times still testing negative … phew, but it's always in the back of my head and there is that constant worry. Through reading and something interested I found is that older dogs are less likely to contract the disease than younger ones. Obviously any dog of any age can get it, but I did find that interested and might be a small bonus to Baron being a bit older now.
I am sharing this because please please get the vaccine. You can get it at any vets office and although it might be nasty and horrible, the alternative is not worth it. Worst bit is that I had it and didn't think it was the season so I didn't use it. It’s sitting in the glove box of the van. Keep an eye out and in the case of Baron and I might be our only defence just because of how difficult they are to spot on him because of his dark fur.
One thing I will say is that it did make me extremely nervous after and more so because of the close proximity we sleep together. I have woken up with those paws in my face and the risk is not only to Baron, but to myself with us both sleeping next to each in the van. I have my fingers crossed that everything will be negative and Baron will be just fine, but I am definitely more aware and hope by writing this will make just one other person avoid the same worry.
No, not four seasons because we are staying at a fancy resort in California instead of our van, but it does mean it is time to change up to a completely different season of outdoor clothing. One of the biggest struggles with living out of a tiny van is having just enough room to pack everything you need.