Tick Talk

By Robert J. Weiner, VMD, ABVP

Ticks are small parasitic arthropods. They have been in the news because, frankly, ticks suck. They can transmit several diseases to humans and animals. There are several species of ticks that are important. The Deer Tick (Ixodes scapularis) is the infamous vector of Lyme disease. Other species of ticks found in Rockland County include the American Dog Tick (Dermacentor variabilis) and the Brown Dog Tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineous). The Lone Star Tick (Ambyomma americanum) isn’t in Rockland yet, but is working its way here. Just recently the Longhorned Tick (Haemaphysalis longiconis) was identified in our area. The diseases these critters can transmit include Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, rocky mountain spotted fever, babesiosis and Powassan virus. The list gets longer as more diseases emerge and are discovered. Veterinarians screen dogs routinely for several tick transmitted diseases by way of a blood test that is often combined with testing for heartworm (a mosquito transmitted disease of dogs). Some of these diseases, but not all, are treated with doxycycline but prevention is key. There are several products available to keep your dog and cats free of ticks. Your veterinarian can help you choose the one that best suits your pet and your family. Options include oral products (for dogs) given monthly or every 3 months (depending on the particular product), collars, and spot-on topical products. There are many over the counter products for purchase in stores or online. Some are generic versions of established and safe products and others are not.  It is important that the product chosen is labelled for the species of animal to which it will be applied. Some dog products can be highly toxic to cats if misapplied on that species. You also need to choose the products that are labelled for your pet’s body weight. Your veterinarian is the one best able to advise you. The product manufacturers know this and often offer rebates on products sold by veterinarians that are not available online or in a store.  No product is 100% effective in keeping ticks off of dogs or cats. All of these products take some time to kill ticks and some are faster than others. You should check you pets daily and remove ticks when you see them.  Your veterinarian can teach you the proper way to remove ticks from your pet. Tick control should be continued year-round.  Ticks are out and ready to attach if the ambient temperature reaches 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Proper and timely application of safe and effective tick control products and regular tick inspections will help keep your pet healthy and also reduce the possibility that unattached ticks will enter your home and threaten your family.  It is time to speak to your veterinarian about tick control. Tick Talk!

August 2018

Fear Not!

By Robert Weiner, VMD, ABVP,  of County Animal Hospital

Most of my patients are happy to see me but some are fearful. We strive to reduce the stress pets experience at the veterinary office. A fear free veterinary visit starts before the scheduled appointment.

Cat owners should purchase secure cat carriers that are large enough for your cat to be comfortable in. Never transport more than one cat at a time in a single carrier. The carrier should open from the top and the sides. Either hard side or soft side carriers are ok but the cardboard ones are not optimal. End opening carriers are ok if the bolts that hold it together are easily removable. Leave the carrier out in your home all the time. Put a t-shirt that you have worn in the carrier or you can use a towel that has been sprayed with Feliway. Feliway is a calming cat pheromone. Toss special cat treats in there from time to time or even a dish of favorite food so that you cat develops a good association with the carrier. If your cat happens to be in the carrier shortly before the visit just close the door. Try and avoid chasing your cat around the house. Hold the base of the carrier when transporting your cat, so your cat feels more secure. This will help reduce motion sickness and stress. When you arrive at the office set the cat carrier on a chair rather than the floor and certainly try not to set it in front of a curious dog. The hospital staff will get you and your feline family member into an exam room and out of waiting room traffic as soon as possible. Leave your cat inside the carrier until the doctor or the LVT (Licensed Veterinary Technician) is ready.

Dog owners should bring your dog to the office hungry and bring along a supply of your dog’s most favorite special treat — something that you would normally not feed. Even fast food is ok if your dog is particularly fearful. You can purchase Adaptyl, a Dog Appeasing Pheromone, to spray the car with (you can’t smell it) or even spray a bandanna that you put around your dog’s neck. If your dog doesn’t do well around other dogs let us know in advance so we can schedule your appointment appropriately.  Maybe call us on your cell phone from the parking lot so we can make sure the waiting room is clear when you come in. Use a nylon or leather six-foot leash. Retractable “flexi leashes” are never a good idea and especially not in the animal hospital. For some dogs, medications administered prior to the visit will help alleviate anxiety and make the visit less fearful for your dog and happier for you and for the hospital staff. With a little planning we can work together to make animal hospitals truly fear free.

 

This article was previously published in New City Neighbor magazine, April 2018