click here for the basic run-down on Lyme Disease.
If I told you that there was a correlation between peanuts and Lyme Disease, would you believe me? Well, there isn’t. But acorns and Lyme Disease… that’s another story.
A few years ago, there was an abundance of acorns in the northeast. This abundance fueled another – this time, that of the white-footed mouse. And everyone knows that ticks just love to feed on yummy little white-footed mice! Let me give you a minute to imagine that ADORABLE scenario. So. Cute!
Too bad there is one major downside to this seemingly random population analysis. The rise in these mice populations, and the ticks that feed on them, means that this spring is going to be an especially bad one for Lyme disease – which we know to be spread by ticks. So what can we do to protect our pets?
The First Line of Defense
The most important foundation of protection against Lyme disease is using a year-round flea and tick preventative. Here at Heart of Chelsea and Lower East Side Animal Hospitals, we recommend either Bravecto, Effitix, or Parastar.
- Bravecto is a pork-flavored chewable that is given every 12 weeks to protect against fleas and ticks and the diseases which they may spread. The folks over at Bravecto specify that, “When fleas and ticks feed, they ingest Bravecto and die. Bravecto Chew for Dogs starts killing fleas (Ctenocephalides felis) within 2 hours, and kills ticks (Ixodes ricinus) within 12 hours.” Since tick-borne diseases take between 24-42 hours to be trasmitted, the use of Bravecto will prevent this transmission. Bravecto will kill any existing fleas and ticks, and will prevent disease transmission from future attachments. Bravecto is effective against black-legged, brown dog, and american dog ticks. One thing to note about this product is that it is not effective against Lone Star ticks after 8 weeks. Therefore, if you are taking your pet to an area with a high lone star tick population, it is safe to dose every 8 weeks. Most of our clients find that their lifestyle in and around NYC does not require this increase in dosing frequency.
- Effitix is our most popular topical option and is applied to the skin between the shoulder blades every month. (This is NOT an option if you have a cat at home, and if you do, please see the next bullet. ) See here for the details on effitix.
- Parastar is the best option for those with cats at home. (It does not contain permethrin, which is toxic to cats.) Parastar is very similar to Effitix in the method and frequency of application. The two products differ in that Effitix kills off fleas and ticks a bit faster.
The Second Line of Defense
House in the Hamptons? Family in Jersey? Lover in Hanover? No, these aren’t just remarkably catchy movie titles. They are indications that your dog’s lifestyle might necessitate an extra layer of protection from those thirsty ticks. For clients who find themselves traveling frequently to high tick populated areas, we recommend another layer of protection on top of oral or topical preventatives. This will come in the form of the Lyme Vaccine, and the Preventic Collar.
- The Lyme Vaccine is a vaccine prevention against Lyme disease. We recommend this for owners who hike with their dog, or travel to places like Fire Island, New Jersey, Westchester or Connecticut frequently throughout the year. In terms of scheduling, we give the first vaccines two-to-three weeks apart, then we boost them once a year thereafter.
- The Preventic Collar is another option for those seeking additional protection against tick-borne diseases. It begins to work 24 hours after being attached to your dog, and lasts for 90 days. The main ingredient in these collars, Amitraz, prevents attachment of new ticks and kills existing ones. We have clients who use Bravecto and also use this tick collar when they travel/hike over the spring/summer.
But what about ME?
This is something that I say to myself several times per day. Me, me, me. If you can relate, then you may be wondering the same thing. How might this affect me? Well, any ticks that your dog carries can leave their host and attach to you. These ticks can carry Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever, both of which can be transmitted to humans. There is no evidence that dogs can transmit these diseases directly to humans.
Well, that’s all for now. Make sure to thoroughly check yourself and your pets for ticks after every jaunt outside this spring, and visit our online store (or come to us in person!) to pick up your preventatives. Give us a call if you think you may have found a tick on your dog, and we will discuss with you the process of testing for disease. Happy Spring!
written by Lauren Gamiel, Veterinary Assistant