Monday, March 16, 2009

Parasite Control 1 of 4

I have been trying to keep my hospital staff trained on the topics of parasite control and prevention in our pets. Here is a summary of what I tell them, regularly this time of year.

I divide our parasite control program into 4 parts. We emphasize prevention over treatment, and I tell them and our clients that there is no one product that can control all 4 parts. The trick is to determine a particular pet's risk factors and create a custom program to keep everyone healthy.

Today we'll talk about ticks. Here on Long Island, ticks are an important vector of disease. Not only are they gross (non-medical term) but they transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease, Ehrlichia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and anaplasmosis. In other areas of the country they can carry other things as well. Many of these diseases are contagious to people as well as dogs and cats.

There are several different species of ticks, and they vary in size and appearance. For a good set of pictures of ticks in their different life stages follow this link. Suffice it to say, different life stages carry a different risk of disease transmission.

With ticks, prevention is the key. Once a kennel or home is infested with ticks, good luck getting rid of them. Also, preventing tick attachment is the best way to prevent disease transmission.

Several tick myths debunked:
1. Ticks do not burrow under the skin and disappear into the host animal. They do feed, engorge with blood and drop of into the environment to moult to the next life stage.
2. The best way to remove a tick is to hold a match to it. Actually, the best way to set your pet on fire is to hold a match to the tick. You can coat the tick in Vaseline as this will block it's breathing pores without the risk of combustion. Or, using a tweezers,gently grasp the tick behind the head, and applying gentle traction, pull it from your pet's skin. Here is one of several tick removers you can use. (Disclaimer: I have not used this particular product and am not associated with the company in any way)
3. You can get ticks off your dog by soaking it in motor oil. See above for combustion comment. If you really think this is a good idea, we need to talk, I mean really talk.

Prevention is much easier than it used to be. In the old days, OK when I graduated from school, we used smelly, relatively toxic dips. Now there are several products on the market that work very well. We recommend and sell Canine Advantix for use on dogs and Frontline Plus for use on dogs and cats. Both are applied monthly, have good residual activity against fleas and ticks (another post on Fleas will follow) and are safe for your pets. They can be purchased from many sources, but the best place is from a veterinarian or a veterinary supervised source as the product can be assured to be dated well and safely stored. Use as directed and contact your veterinarian if you have any questions.

Next post will be on internal parasites you know, icky WORMS.

Keith Niesenbaum, VMD
Life's Abundance Field Representative

1 comment:

squirrelmama said...

Glad to have read this one well after the dinner hour but it contains a lot of important info, not the least of which are the safety caveats. The suffocation-by-Vaseline sounds safest and most effective to me. Just hope we can keep our girl tick-free so we don't have to test it out.