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Spring Tick Update 2016

It’s getting to be that time of year again.  Spring is around the corner and so are those little parasites called ticks!  This edition of my blog will revisit the diseases ticks can transmit and the products available to keep them from spreading those diseases to your dog.
The tick borne diseases that are most commonly diagnosed in this area are lyme, anaplasmosis and ehrlichia.  Rocky Mountain spotted fever has been diagnosed in areas of southern Minnesota.
Lyme disease can cause symptoms of acute lameness, extreme joint pain, fever and loss of appetite.  Left untreated lyme disease can cause damage to the kidneys and in severe cases may cause death in the dog.
Anaplasma attacks the platelets in the blood causing clotting problems.  Ehrlichia causes problems with the white blood cell count which helps to fight off infection.  Symptoms of these two diseases are the same as in lyme disease with or without the fever.
In the case of Rocky Mountain spotted fever the disease causes vessels in the skin and organs to hemorrhage.  Symptoms are the same as mentioned above.
The best way to protect your dog from any tick borne disease is to use a form of tick prevention to help kill the ticks before they are able to transmit disease.  Some of the above mentioned tick diseases are transmitted by the tick in as little as 4-6 hours.  Tick products such as Frontline Plus which in the past had been excellent in killing ticks no longer work fast enough.  Kill time for a tick product is very important!  A product that states it kills ticks in six hours or less is best.
At North Shore Veterinary Hospital our doctors have spent numerous hours learning and deciphering the pros and cons of most of the products available in the area of tick protection.   In order for us to recommend a product to our clients the product must be safe to handle, extremely effective and virtually side effect free.  Although there are dogs who may react in some way to a product we try very hard to find products in which the percentage of side effects are low.  Side effects for topical products and collars are usually a skin rash to the application site.  Vomiting is a side effect of oral tablets.
The products we have recommended last year and will again this year are the oral Bravecto tablet, the Scalibor collar and Parastar Plus.
Parastar Plus is a topical ointment applied exactly like Frontline Plus.  An application is needed once a month during tick season.  This product has a one hour tick kill claim.  I personally have used this product on my dog and have not seen a tick on her in two seasons!
The Scalibor collar is applied snug to the neck and is left alone for six months.  There is no odor or continuous powder release of this product.  The medication on the collar works itself into the skin glands and works its way all over the body in a similar fashion as the topical products.  The effectiveness of this collar is only good for 6-8 months so a second collar will need to be applied or another form of tick protection should be used to continue protection throughout the entire tick season.
Bravecto offers tick and flea protection in the form of an oral tablet that is given every three months.  For those people who live in areas where Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a threat the tablet needs to be given every two months.
Bravecto works quickly and starts to kill ticks in four hours.  It is 100% effective in 12 hours and the effectiveness of this product does not start to wane until the very last couple of days of the third month.  The tablet is a pork based chew.  Research trials showed very low side effects and those that were noted were some mild gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea and flatulence.  This product was very popular with clients and our staff last year and excellent efficacy was reported.
Two other products that are very good are the Seresto Collar which works as well as the Scalibor collar and Vectra 3D which is another topical product which is applied a little differently than Parastar Plus but is just as effective.
As added insurance against lyme disease you may want to have your dog vaccinated.  The lyme vaccine North Shore Veterinary Hospital has used for several years was enhanced in a profound way.  There are ten proteins that ticks can carry lyme disease in.  The new vaccine, Vangard crLyme attacks seven of the ten proteins.  This is the first year we are using the new vaccine and are excited to see the efficacy in stopping lyme disease from being transferred to dogs.  Keep in mind that vaccines are not 100% effective but we are most hopeful this will be the best lyme vaccine available on the market!
Remember our tick season can vary with our weather.  There are some years we start tick protection in March.  This is one of those years.  Ticks were seen the first couple of weeks in March.  It is important to start the applications as soon as the outside temperatures start to rise and the snow starts to melt, revealing bare ground, so the tick medication has been activated throughout the dog and ready to go when ticks appear.  Also the last application of the season can be November or December since we have seen ticks out in December in recent years.   Until there is a good amount of snow on the ground or the temperatures fall below freezing and remain there tick protection should be applied.
Here at the North Shore Veterinary Hospital we see more and more tick borne disease in dogs every year.  Help to keep your dog tick borne disease free by using appropriate products to kill ticks before they can spread disease through bites.
Until next time, think gardens and flowers!!


Feline Preventive Care

Whereas a large percentage of canine pets visit a veterinarian at least once a year only a small percentage of feline pets get to the vet on an annual basis.  One of the reasons may be that most cats are indoor cats and have less exposure to disease and accidents.  While this is true it is still very important to have your feline companions examined on an annual basis.

Feline exams help to ensure the health and longevity of your pet.  A good exam should include the following:

  1. Status of vaccinations.  Indoor cats should still be vaccinated for rabies and distemper even if they never get outside.
  2. Dental health.  Most cats at some point in their lives will need a dentistry to clean the teeth and extract any teeth that have cavities which cause pain.  If you see your cat only chewing on one side of its mouth or has gone off dry food altogether there is a good chance there are painful teeth that need to be addressed.
  3. Nutrition and activity.  How and what is your cat eating?  Is the water consumption normal?  Is your cat overweight?  Is your cat active?  If not why?  Suggestions can be made for a nutritionally balanced diet.  In the case of inactivity an orthopedic exam can rule out any arthritis which can lessen the amount of activity in your cat.
  4. Eyes and ears.  The veterinarian will check for any ear debris or polyps.  Eye exams insure the health of the cornea, lens and retina.
  5. Coat and skin.  Changes in the hair coat, loss of hair, lumps or pigment changes can be investigated.
  6. Breathing.  Listening to the lungs helps to catch any respiratory infections or heart issues.
  7. Behavior.  Has your cat been using the litterbox normally?  Any changes in demeanor or activity?  Depending on the issue tests can be run to see if infections or metabolic changes are contributing to the behavior.
  8. Blood tests.  These are especially important for older cats and should be done on an annual basis in order to catch any metabolic changes early.

Catching issues early is important to the life and emotional wellness of your cat.  As cats age changes can occur with weight, activity, organ function and behavior.  Having annual exams and blood tests help to keep a log of how your cat is doing from year to year.  The incorporation of special diets and/or medications can help to lengthen the life of a cat with kidney issues, hyperthyroidism or diabetes.  A longer life mean extra snuggles and moments with your special friend which may be just enough to justify yearly check-ups.

Until next time enjoy the fall season!


Contact Us

(218) 525-1937

Fax: (218) 525-2311

North Shore Veterinary Hospital
6001 E. Superior St.
Duluth, MN 55804

Clinic Hours

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  • 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • 8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
  • 8 a.m. – Noon
  • Closed
Our Hospital
North Shore Veterinary Hospital has been an accredited member of the American Animal Hospital Association since 1979.
At-Home Care
North Shore Veterinary Hospital strives to provide care in a manner that is most beneficial to pets and their owners. In many cases, this means providing services in the comfort of your home rather than at our hospital.