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Tick Talk… It’s Tick Time Again!

Attached ticks cause inflammation and itching, which can lead to irritation and, potentially, secondary bacterial infections.

In addition, blood loss from ticks can become significant during heavy infestations. A few ticks feeding to capacity do not pose a threat to the host’s blood volume. However, in environments with intense tick populations, an animal may acquire hundreds or thousands of ticks, and severe blood loss may result.

Ticks also serve as vectors for and can transmit potentially fatal pathogens.

  • These pathogens include Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease, and Anaplasma phagocytophilum, the cause of granulocytic anaplasmosis, Rickettsia species causing Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Babesiosis, Hepatozoonosis, Ehrlichiosis and Cytauxzoonosis.
  • Tick-borne diseases often present with similar clinical signs regardless of the infectious organisms involved. These signs may take weeks-months to appear.
  • Signs include: lethargy, fever, muscle pain, decreased appetite, discharge from the nostrils or eyes, lameness, increased drinking/urinating and hematologic (blood) abnormalities.
  • The majority of tick-borne disease agents cause mild to moderate illness in infected hosts, but several can be fatal in pets and humans.
  • Because ticks transmit multiple pathogens and dogs are often infested with numerous ticks, co-infection with multiple tick-borne disease agents is commonly seen and can result in more severe disease.
  • Vaccines are available for B burgdorferi in dogs but preventing infection with all of these pathogens depends on strict attention to tick control.

Remember that even though you are not likely to get a tick-borne disease directly from your pets, your pets can bring ticks into your environment that can also attach to you and thereby pose a threat to your health.

If you find ticks on your pet, aren’t sure you got all of the tick out, if your pet is showing any signs of illness, or if you have any questions or concerns regarding ticks and tick-borne illness, please make an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss possible testing and treatment.


How to Prevent Ticks & Tick-Borne Disease

1. Acaricide (a substance that is toxic to ticks) use in pets well before tick exposure can help to repel or kill ticks that the pet is exposed to.

  • Options include: monthly topical solutions and collars (possibly less effective)
  • To be effective these must be applied to the pets well before exposure.
  • You should consult your veterinarian to find the best solution for your pet both in terms of efficacy and safety. Be sure to follow all label directions carefully.
  • DO NOT use products labeled only for dogs on your cat!

2. Follow the following protocols for tick habitats. This will decrease the overall number of ticks that have the opportunity to attach and feed.

  • If possible avoid areas heavily populated with ticks. Some tick species prefer wooded areas, while others are found in more open surroundings. Tick numbers are often greater along deer trails and other areas frequented by wildlife hosts, and in areas where deer bed down.
  • Wear protective clothing. Light-colored long pants and sleeves are protective and allow ticks to be more readily seen. Tucking pant legs into boots will limit tick access to skin, as will taping the waistband and cuffs of sleeves.
  • Apply repellents to humans – products containing DEET and permethrin.

3. Remove ticks promptly to prevent disease transmission.

  • Even when repellents and protective clothing are used, people should check themselves and their pets for ticks frequently, especially after venturing into prime tick habitat, to insure attached ticks are promptly removed. The longer a tick is attached, the greater the chance for transmission of an infectious disease to you or your pets.
  • To remove a tick safely and with the least risk of injury or infection to yourself or the animal, use forceps or a tick tool to grasp the tick mouthparts as close to the skin as possible and apply steady, rearward traction.
  • Once removed, save the intact tick for identification, in a vial with ethanol or trapped in a piece of tape that is then placed in the freezer. If the person or animal develops signs of a tick-borne disease in the next few weeks or months, having this tick may assist with prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
  • When removing ticks, DO NOT:
    – Quickly jerk or twist the tick out of the skin to avoid breaking the mouthparts and leaving a piece of the tick in the skin.
    – Apply a lit match or harsh chemical to the tick in an attempt to encourage it to release as this can induce regurgitation in the tick, hastening transmission of pathogens.
    – Crush the tick as this may result in exposure of people and pets to infectious material.

4. Protect the home environment.

  • Alter environment to make it less conducive to tick survival:
    – Removing and burning low-lying vegetation and leaf litter
    – Edging the yard with rocks or gravel
    – Excluding wildlife, where feasible
  • In areas with heavy tick infestations, have licensed pest control operators apply environmental sprays.


How to make medication request hassle-free!

Getting your requests to your veterinarian can be quite a process, especially when you are uncertain about the necessary information we need to fulfill the request. Let’s take this opportunity to review the information required and help you understand why it's helpful in ensuring a smooth and hassle-free experience. What do I need to know before I make a prescription request?   There are 5 important pieces of information you'll need to have ready to relay to your veterinary team when requesting a prescription. Medication name Medication concentration Medication dose Medication instructions Quantity you need Let me explain what each one is and why we need it. This information can all be found on your pet's medication label.  Medication Name – This is simple enough; it is the name of your medication, and yes, it is very important. If you call and say you want to refill Fluffy’s eye medication, this won’t help us if they are on 3 different eye medications. Knowing the name of your pet’s medication can be the difference between the correct refill and the wrong refill. Medication Concentration – All medications come in many concentrations, and we want to ensure that your pet gets the correct one to avoid the risk of over- or under-dosing. The concentration is either written as milligrams, mg/mL or a percentage. Pills and tablets can be things like 2.5mg, 10mg, etc. Liquids will be in forms such as 20mg per ml, 200mg/ml, etc., and other medications, such as eye ointments, may say something like 2%. Medication Dose – The dose indicates how much of the medication your pet should be given and how often—for example, 1 tablet every 12 hours or a 1/4″ strip 3 times a day. Medication Instructions – We don't have the exact wording of your label, but we need to know how you are giving the medication currently. This may sound something like I give 1 pill in the morning and 2 pills in the evening or I give 3 units every 12 hours, etc. If what you are giving is different from what is on your medication label, then tell us what you are currently giving and why. It is not recommended to change medication instructions without speaking to your veterinarian.   Quantity You Need – To ensure you have the supply uu need and avoid multiple trips, please be sure to know what amount(s) of your pet's medication(s) you need. This may be given as a number amount, such as 30 pills or the length of time the medication needs to last,  such as 30 days worth. If you tell us 1 bottle, it doesn't necessarily help us as many medications come in multiple-sized bottles. TIP: Create a folder in your phone’s photo album called Medications, take pictures of your pet’s medication labels, and place them in there for quick access!   Keep in mind that your veterinarian pharmacy, like all other pharmacies, will need time to fill your medication. We kindly ask that you give us 24-48 hours' notice for filling medications as our veterinary staff are very busy and may not always have time to fill medications same-day. TIP: If you are like me and have trouble remembering to get medications refilled on time until you use the last one, there's an APP for that!   If it's a regular medication - there is an app called medisafe that lets you track medications and can be used for pet medications as well. You can set custom notifications to remind you when to refill your medication, such as when you have 5 pills left. If the medication is your pet’s flea and tick medication, check out the app "Flea & Tick"  (iPhone) (Android). This app allows you to track when you last gave your pet their last dose and upload a photo of your medication so you always have what it is at your fingertips. Lastly, look for things your clinic may have, such as QR codes on your medication bottles to help remind you to refill when you run low or website pages like ours (Pharmacy Requests) to make it easier for you to request your medication. Stayed tuned for Part 2.   Written by: Ashely G, VT

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