I just had the pleasure of joining a discussion about Lyme disease on a health radio show. We were discussing specifics, and comparing the prevalence of Lyme disease diagnoses in the human population to that of the pet population. This is a topic that I find myself discussing often. I know so many friends, family and clients that have been diagnosed with Lyme, often having been misdiagnosed or undiagnosed for a long while, delaying treatment and often not being treated until things had progressed.
In sharp contrast, I feel, is how aware we are of the very real risk of Lyme disease in our patients. We test for it often. And in this part of the country, although certainly not exclusive to this area, we see patients test positive for exposure often. I am talking, nearly every day, if you work in a big enough practice. We screen for it, along with heart worm testing, and we then confirm whether the exposure is significant enough to treat. This goes on all year.
I am bringing this up now, because this is the time of the year that deer ticks are waking from their overwintering. And Lyme disease is not the only tick-borne disease out there that you need to be aware of. We see some others, which can cause quite serious disease. Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, to name a few. These ticks also like to latch onto humans, so please protect your pets and your family. I know many, many families that stop their flea and tick preventative during the winter. I give it all year. Either way, please make sure that you are using something recommended by your veterinarian , starting now.
Your dogs may only go out, but they can bring in ticks that can transfer to your cats, and then your family. Treat all your pets in the house, indoor or outdoor.
78% of dog owners use tick prevention. That means 22% of dogs are still unprotected.
62% of cat owners use tick prevention, which means 38% are unprotected.
Changing weather patterns have prolonged the time ticks are out and about, ready to infect.
Ticks are transported throughout the country by migrating birds. Check out this map, and plan accordingly if you are traveling this summer.
Target lesions, that we are trained to look for on people, are transient, and even harder to find on your furry pets. Be proactive, not reactive. Use preventative, and consider the vaccine for your dog.