Protected From Ticks….Or Not?
The deer and wood tick population exploded this year. In addition to their record numbers, ticks seem to be everywhere—not just in the deep woods and tall grass, but in back yards, parks, and urban areas—and that means that increased vigilance and protection are more important than ever. A new study at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire found that an average 35% of 341 adult female deer ticks collected from 21 counties scattered around Wisconsin from 2010 to 2013 tested positive for the Lyme bacterium. Here are some important “things-to-know” to help keep your pet safe from tick-borne diseases:
1. Wisconsin is in the “red-zone” for tick infestation. Highest risk areas are the Northeast US—from southern Maine through Washington, D.C., as well as Minnesota and Wisconsin. For the past ten years, the tick population has been growing, and we now have 16 different tick species in Wisconsin! It’s a good idea to check your pet (and yourself) thoroughly anytime you are outside.
2. Tick protection is a year round imperative. Many folks think that applying a topical preventive during the warmer months is enough protection—and it’s not. Warmer winters mean that ticks can be active throughout the year. Regular, year-round use of a high quality topical made with the latest medical technology is paramount. Talk to our veterinarians to learn more about the preventive that’s right for your pet.
3. There is a Lyme disease vaccine available for dogs. The first shot requires a booster two to four weeks later and then it’s just a single injection annually. In high-risk areas like Wisconsin, the vaccine can offer additional protection against Lyme disease, but not ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis, other tick-borne diseases. Ask your vet if the vaccine is right for your companion.
4. Regular examinations and testing can help keep your pet healthy. Animals often don’t display symptoms of chronic illnesses, including Lyme disease, even though they are affected. Regular testing is a good way to identify dogs that have been infected but are not showing symptoms.
It’s important to know that even with a year-round preventive, dogs can still be at risk! A friend of mine who faithfully uses a preventive has a six-year old dog who contracted ehrlichiosis two years ago. During a recent check-up, he tested positive for Lyme disease! Luckily, the dog was symptom-free and is receiving a two-month dose of antibiotics, so they are expecting a full recovery. (Needless to say, he also got his first Lyme vaccine during the exam.)
Even with the colder weather, ticks are still active. Talk to your veterinarian about the right care program and products to protect your companion from tick-borne illnesses all year long. And while you’re outside… don’t forget to keep yourself safe, too!