Monday, April 22, 2013

Ticks Hitchhike on City Dogs Too


Dr. Debbie & Kane

Ticks are common parasites known to infect people, pets and spread disease. Over 850 tick species exist worldwide, although fewer than a dozen species are of risk to pets in the U.S. But here in Las Vegas, pet owners often dismiss the existence of ticks with the likes of Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. Think ticks are only a problem for pets that travel or visit the mountains? Think again.

Here’s a photo of a typical tick, born and bred in Las Vegas and recently extracted from one of my Shih Tzu patients named Kane. Kane never leaves the state, doesn’t hike in the mountains, and enjoys the comforts of a house-dog lifestyle. A tick was discovered on Kane after a day of supervising his owner's yard work and shrub trimming.

The Tick Tale

 
Ticks are parasites known to infect mammals, reptiles and birds and feed on their host’s blood. Although of tiny size, ticks ingest 200 to 600 times their weight in a blood meal.

Ticks are attracted to a host’s movement, body warmth or exhaled carbon dioxide and then latch on. Through this feeding behavior they can transmit diseases to pets such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Ehrlichia, Babesia and Tularemia. Disease transmission takes some time and may occur after 36 to 48 hours of feeding behavior.

Some ticks can live months or up to a year off its host without a feeding, so year-round prevention is important for pets at risk for continued exposure.

Battling Ticks


There are many topical tick control products available for pets. Speak with your veterinarian for an product that is effective and safe with your pet's individual health in mind. Cats are sensitive to some ingredients, may develop toxicity, and should never be treated with a product labeled only for dogs. Additionally, pet owners using multiple products on their pet should first consult with their veterinarian to ensure safe use of combined products.

In addition to topical tick control, environmental treatment with foggers, sprays or pest control service should be considered for heavy infestations. Limit tick habitat zones by maintaining landscaping, avoiding overgrown grass and keeping shrubs and plants trimmed.

Pet Screening

 
Perform daily tick checks during tick season. Examine your pet for ticks in areas that the parasites hang out- around the head, behind ears, armpits and between toes.
 
When removing a tick, avoid handling it directly. Wear gloves or handle with Kleenex since ticks can pass infections to people as well. Grasp the tick with tweezers close to the skin. Extract the tick by pulling straight out of skin. Don’t squeeze, twist or leave any legs behind. Disinfect the area and dispose of ticks in rubbing alcohol.

Maybe Kane's story will be an eye-opener for city dwelling pet owners. Pet parasites like fleas, ticks and mosquitoes still lurk in that urban jungle.

Visit the Dogs & Ticks website for more information ticks, diseases and prevention. http://www.dogsandticks.com/



Monday, April 1, 2013

Get Your Pet To the Vet Safely with No Escapees


A frightening situation occurred the other day at my veterinary hospital.  Working inside my office, I could hear a woman’s shrieks coming from the parking lot. I ran outside to find a woman with one dog on a leash, and the other dog skittering about the parking lot- the result of a slipped collar. The owner would approach the panicked dog and he’d retreat, darting under nearby cars. Those familiar with our hospital location understand its proximity to a busy intersection. Should the dog run in the wrong direction, he’d meet up with 45 mph traffic.
My staff was outside in moments to assist the owner in retrieving her dog and safely escorted everyone into the building. Thankfully my client’s few minutes of terror ended uneventfully. But that’s not always the case. I’ve seen dogs run straight into the road, cat’s leap from a family member’s arms, and owners dive into oncoming traffic trying to catch an escaping pet.
The lesson is simple. Don’t underestimate your pets’ fears. Fear of car travel, new places or the veterinary office can cause a pet to behave in unpredictable ways. If you know your pet to be nervous with new people or new situations, be especially vigilant when transporting your pet in a vehicle.

Identify your pet

Use two methods of identification for best insurance your pet is returned to you if lost. Permanent identification with a microchip is a must, and should be complimented with a collar and ID tags.

Restrain pet in vehicle

Keep your pet secure during travel and when the car door opens by using a doggie seatbelt. Small dogs and cats should be housed in a pet carrier which is secured with seatbelt to avoid undue carrier movement during travel. Do not allow cats and small pets to roam freely in the car. Cats have been known to take cover under car seats which may require sedation or seat removal to extract kitty from her hiding place.

Check for proper fit

 

A proper fitting collar allows 2 finger widths between the collar and pet’s neck. (See above picture) Allow more than, and should your pet put on the brakes, he’ll easily slip out of the collar.  (example below)



Poor fitting harnesses are just as dangerous and allow gap room which allows a back-peddling pet to wiggle out. (see below) Not sure if the collar is too loose? Snug the collar up one fitting in anticipation of your trip to the vet.
 

Try other collar styles

Even if you don’t normally use a choker or pinch collar, consider using one when going to the vet’s office. For thick necked dogs with smaller head size, try the Martingale collar, a fabric and metal combo collar that snugs down should your dog try to back out. Boisterous dogs that jump and leap when on leash may benefit wearing a head collar that fits over the muzzle. Ensure your collar choice is properly fitted, since any of these styles can fail if improperly fitted or used incorrectly.

Call ahead

If you anticipate difficulties getting your pet to the vet’s office, call ahead. Veterinary staff members are on the ready to help ensure your pet’s visit is a safe one.

So, take a few minutes to consider your pet's travel safety before heading out on that next car trip, whether it is to the park, groomer, or veterinary office. Your four legged friend will thank you, but may pout on the way there.