[alert type=”yellow”]“Dogs are 100 times more likely to get a tick than humans. They get attached to fur. They’re not as good groomers as cats that tend to groom them off,” said Dr. Francis.[/alert]
From Sippican Week, By Georgia Sparling | Aug 05, 2012
Pets and livestock are just as, if not more, susceptible to this year’s large population of nasty bugs.

When Dr. Rachel Francis says it’s been a record year, that’s not something to cheer about.

Francis, a veterinarian at the Marion Animal Hospital, says this year’s large bug population has hit pets and livestock hard.

Lone star ticks, deer ticks, mosquitoes, fleas, horseflies and other pesky parasites have been attacking local animals with a vengeance.

Francis said almost any dog in the area that goes outside contracts lyme disease.

While most dog owners have probably already encountered ticks on their pets this year, Francis wants people to make sure they keep an eye on their animal’s behavior.

“There are two things I worry about with lyme disease in dogs. One is if they don’t get treated soon enough. If we don’t get them in right away, they can develop a chronic illness such as kidney disease,” said Francis.

“The other thing I worry about is that if ticks are biting my animal patients, then my human clients are in danger. If you’re not feeling good, you need to talk to someone about that.”

Bill Ritchie, a horse trainer at Sterling Pointe Farm, said pets aren’t the only ones suffering from illnesses. Mosquitoes and large horseflies have ridden the horses more than their owners this summer.

Ritchie said, thankfully, spraying killed a lot of mosquitoes and Eastern Equine Encephalitis hasn’t been an issue so far with their horses.

But, horseflies are a different beast, and they’ve got their biting down to a science.

“They’ll land on the base of the horse’s tail where it can’t reach them with a swish of their tail or with their head,” said Richie.

Keeping bugs at bay is important for the health of the horses and the riders.

“They hate them so much that they get running before the fly even lands on them,” he said.

Francis said EEE and other tick and mosquito-borne illnesses can make horses unsound to ride, cows stop producing milk and weaken young animals.

To keep animals safe now takes year round anti-parasitic treatments, said Francis. While she said that farmers tend to have a close eye on their livestock, pet owners might need to change their mindset.

“We used to be able to do the flea and tick preventatives for six months,” said Francis.

The South Coast now sees ticks in November and February. As the weather cools, there is a spike in the parasitic population, said Francis.

“The good news is that we were anticipating it based on last year and the weather pattern,” said Francis. “It’s been something veterinarians know has been coming up.”

With so many bugs and at least 20 new anti-parasitic treatments on the market this year along, Francis said treating pets can be overwhelming. Layering several products can be effective but Francis says it’s important to consult a veterinarian to avoid overdosing pets.

“If you put enough chemicals together, you’re definitely going to make your pets sick eventually,” she said.

Additionally, topical treatments may affect different animals differently, depending on factors like an animal’s skin type or their lifestyle.

“Unfortunately, there’s no magic bullet for every pet,” said Francis. But luckily she said veterinarians are “specifically trained in this particular pharmaceutical area.”

Besides consulting a veterinarian or veterinary technician, Francis said www.veterinarypartner.com has good articles for the layperson, and anti-parasite brands offer help lines for customers to ask questions.

Even with all of the care it takes to keep animals and their humans safe, Francis said, “The positive effects way outweigh any of the risk.”

From Sippican Week, By Georgia Sparling | Aug 05, 2012

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