Mendocino Animal HOspital
By Dr. Katy Sommers
If you read my last blog about Lyme disease in animals, you already know it makes sense to keep your dog free of ticks to prevent Lyme disease. In our area, this might sound easier said than done, as we have a high prevalence for ticks and the Lyme bacteria that ticks transmit. This discussion will cover tips on environmental control, natural tick control measures, topical and oral flea and tick preventatives and the Lyme vaccine.
If you live in the country or have a backyard where wildlife frequent, I recommend reading the tips for habitat control on the Center For Disease Control website (www.cdc.gov/lyme/prev.) If you’re walking in the woods, keep your dog on wide paths or roads. Some ticks have been known to wait up to 2 years in a “suspended animation state” on a bush or low limb, just to leap on the next passing mammal.
Natural flea control measures have no side effects and work well for some people. A daily tick check can be a free, natural and effective way to fight Lyme disease. Finding and removing a tick within 24-48 hours is believed to eliminate disease risk. My dogs, Bunny and Chica, have light colored, short hair, making it easy for me to remove crawling or recently attached ticks. They love the attention, and I follow it with a short massage. I use a tissue wipe by VetriScience to help repel ticks before going on a walk, and the inexpensive “Tick Twister” for attached ticks. Both products are available in our lobby.
Many clients find the ease of monthly topical or oral tick control products work best for them. There’s a confusing amount of these products on the market. We change products periodically as we strive to carry the best available in terms of safety, effectiveness, ease of use, and affordability for our clients. We look carefully at published safety data and track records. You will find our doctors recommend specific options based on your dog’s health status and their risk for serious tick borne infections.
If your tick control is ineffective, discuss the Lyme vaccine with our vets. It works by killing the organism inside the attached tick before it can enter your dog’s system. Also consider the blood test offered at yearly health exams, which tells us if your dog has been infected with the Lyme organism.
A quick word about cats: They don’t get Lyme disease. Their excellent grooming skills usually keeps them relatively free of ticks, but you may need to help them with the Tick Twister on the areas they can’t reach, usually the head and neck.
So the ticks are still out there now in a number of areas! Our team is trained and eager to help you with questions about Lyme, so please don’t hesitate to ask.