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Tick Season

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March 26, 2012 by Linda Ford

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In case you haven’t noticed, the ticks are out again. I noticed the first wave about a month ago when my horses started swishing their tails. Sure enough, when I checked under the tails ticks were already attached and feeding. I got out my doggy Frontline and wiped a small amount on each horse. That took care of the first wave. Almost every dog we get in the clinic now, if it’s not on a preventive, is covered in small ticks.

There are number of diseases that dogs, cats, horses, cows and people can get from tick bites. The worst one for dogs is Eh- rlichiosis. We just had a dog in the hospital that was drowning in his own blood that had leaked into his chest. We removed 1.5 liters of blood from his thoracic cavity and he was finally able to breathe again after many sleepless nights of sitting up—the owners, too. Ehrlichiosis destroys the plate- lets in the blood. Platelets cause the blood to clot to prevent bleeding out after a trauma or cut. I’ve seen many dogs die suddenly and blood come gushing from the nostrils. Young dogs aren’t nearly as susceptible to bleeding out as older dogs. But, if left undiagnosed and treated, as they age the disease finally catches up with them. Fortunately, there is an in- house diagnostic test that can be done with a small blood sample. We test every animal before they get spayed or neutered to make sure they don’t bleed after surgery. The worst cat tick disease in NW Arkansas is Cytauxzoonosis. This disease is almost always fatal and cats are only sick for five or six days before they die. The only preventive for this disease is to not let cats get ticks.

That brings us to the subject of tick preventives. In my experience, as long as cats are kept on Frontline topical or Ovitrol tick spray they are safe from Cytaux. My recommendation is to apply Frontline to cats every three weeks instead of four during tick sea- son. This also goes a long way to eliminating fleas as well. That is just what I do for my cats and is not specified on the label of the product. There are no other topical products that kill deer ticks on cats so those are the only two choices I know of for cats.

There are a few more choices for tick prevention for dogs. You have Frontline, Advantix and a few other topicals and sprays. There are a couple of good tick collars for dogs. The one I know works well is called Preventic Collar. It works well for 90 days and the ticks actually detach. There is a new one on the market call Scalibor. It is supposed to be good for six whole months. I put one on my dog last year and at first I didn’t think it worked. But after about a month, all the ticks were gone and stayed gone. I just put a new one on in March so I’m anxious to see if it continues to work until September. I sew the collar to the inside of a regular collar so it doesn’t get ripped off the dog and also because that puts it in direct con- tact with the dog’s skin.

We no longer dip dogs and cats for ticks. The old dips are toxic to the pet and the environment. The newer products are much safer for both the pet and the environment. In fact, some of these products are getting awards for being environmentally “friendly.” Some are being used in agriculture to kill disease and crop pests. This keeps toxic runoff from entering our drinking water.

Play it safe-have your dogs tested for Ehrlichiosis and keep dogs and cats tick free with environmentally friendly products.

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