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Thursday, April 7, 2016

How can something so small do so much damage?

It 'tis the season...the season of the tick.  Many people are already finding ticks in large abundance and we are only in the first week of April.  Mnay of us have grown up around them for decades and not though much about them other than they are gross, painful and annoying.  Unfortunately however, these tiny pests carry a large number of diseases.  The threat is so great that the CDC has an entire area of their website dedicated to tick borne diseases...  The most common among them is Lyme Disease.  Lyme Disease used to be considered a southeastern US problem, but it has spread far and wide and become very prevalent in our region.  Each year veterinary offices and clinics are seeing an increasing number of Lyme positive pets.  Most commonly in dogs.  If your pets are contracting it from tick bites, that means the incidence of humans contracting it from ticks is high as well.  You can only catch Lyme Disease from an infected tick, so if your pet tests positive you have no concern of catching the disease from them.
Prevention is the key to reducing your chances and your pet's chances for infection.  There are many preventatives available through your veterinarian office - they range from topical applications to pills and collars.  You should never buy over the counter preventative for your pets without consulting with your veterinarian first.  Many larger stores now carry the same medications as your veterinarian, but a consult with him or her should be the first step.  Never use Hartz, Seargents or other generic products as they have been proven to cause severe allergic reactions in animals ranging from skin burns and irritations to seizures and even death.  Another highly recommended preventative measure is providing your dogs with a lyme vaccine.  The initial vaccine has to be boosted in 4 weeks, but after that only a yearly booster is required.  When walking your dog outside, it is always good to brush them through thoroughly after your walk.  This way any ticks that have come along for the ride but have not attached or died from their preventative treatment will be brushed away and not given the opportunity to attach to your pet, or to you.  To learn more about tick borne illnesses in pets please visit: PetMd
We don't want to protect just our pets, but we need to take care of ourselves as well.  Wearing light colored clothing, tucking our pants in our boots when hiking and wearing longer sleeves can be helpful.  Using a spray or lotion to repel ticks is also a good idea. There are many products on the market from Deet based products to natural compounds.  You should take the opportunity to have a brief discussion with your family physician regarding their recommendations on the best and safest products for you to use.  Another trick to keeping them from attaching is taking a tape roller, like the one you have for pet hair, and rolling all over your clothes and even your head after walking outside.  The tape can pick up any little critters crawling on your clothes or person.  Spring and summer are fantastic seasons to spend lots of outdoor time with your dogs and we want you both to stay happy and healthy while doing so.

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