Pet owners, vets prepare for soaring tick population

Highlights from Jenna Lookner's article posted on Villagesoup.com

Although mild temperatures during the winter may have been pleasant, the impact on the ecosystem could have pitfalls including a spike in the tick population.

Local veterinarians have already seen significant concern from pet owners about ticks and the risk of deer tick bites is high throughout New England, according to the University of Rhode Island Tick Resource Center website.

Dog owners in the region said they began removing ticks from their pets as early as mid-February.

Katie Schick of Lincolnville said she has removed numerous deer and dog ticks from her Golden Retriever, Betty, during the past month.

"I pulled five ticks off in one day," Schick said. Even though Schick has applied the flea and tick product Frontline to Betty she noted that it "doesn't seem to be working."

Bjorn Lee is one of the veterinarians at PenBay Veterinary Associates in Rockport. Lee said he too has seen ticks throughout the winter. He confirmed that the ticks "came out in force" during the first week of March and have been consistently problematic since. Lee said local tick hotbeds include popular Rockport walking spot Beech Hill and nearby Dodge Mountain. Lee advised dog owners to be diligent about keeping their pets on a road or path when walking, since overgrown grass and underbrush are tick habitats. Lee noted that his practice has recently begun recommending a new product called Parastar Plus, which Lee said has the same active ingredient as Frontline Plus (Fipronil) plus an additional component to agitate the ticks and keep them from attaching. Lee said they've seen "remarkably fewer ticks" in the canine patients treated with Parastar Plus at his practice.

While "absolutely nothing is 100 percent" Lee said he's seen markedly fewer "clinical" Lyme diagnoses in the Lyme vaccinated dogs he sees in his practice. He noted there are multiple types of Lyme vaccination presently on the market. In addition to Lyme, Lee said he has seen an increase in the tick-borne disease Anaplasmosis, which has similar symptoms to Lyme. According to Lee, the symptoms are "more acute" than typical Lyme symptoms but dogs can generally be treated with a course of antibiotics and avoid chronic illness. Five years ago Lee only saw Anaplasmosis in about 5 percent of dogs; that number has jumped to approximately 20 percent now, he said.

The veterinarians agreed if one finds a tick on a pet, it's best to slowly remove it and have it identified. Dill said the University of Maine Cooperative Extension offers identification through its Pest Management Office. Dill suggested preserving the tick in a few drops of rubbing alcohol and placing it inside a sealed vial or small container prior to sending it in. He also recommends calling the vet or doctor if one discovers a partially engorged tick on a pet or human.

Read the full article at: http://knox.villagesoup.com/news/story/pet-owners-vets-prepare-for-soaring-tick-population/804147

 

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