It finally feels like spring. I am looking out my window admiring the sunshine and mild weather. I am sure many of you are ready to emerge from winter hibernation and head out with your furry friend to the conservation areas for some much needed spring fresh air. You know who else likes spring? Ticks. Ticks start to be active with average temperatures over 4 degrees Celsius. It is time to start thinking about protection for your furry friends.
Many of our Canine patients are protected with Revolution through heart worm season which does kill ticks. However, heartworm season does not start until the end of May/ beginning of June leaving a big window for ticks to crawl in. The other concern with our Revolution protection is the rate of the tick kill. It is slower than some of the alternative products on the market. If your pet is very active in the outdoors in rural or conservation areas or you have seen ticks in the past year while then it may be time to consider some of the protection alternatives. We are recommending Revolution for those dogs considered low risk for tick exposure.
The new oral (given by mouth) tick products on the market are Nexgard which is a monthly flea and tick product and Bravecto which is given once every 3 months. These drugs involved are related compounds and either may have side effects of vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy in a small number of pets. The ticks need to bite and feed to die so you may still need to remove ticks from your pet but they will likely be dead before you see them. If you, or your dog, prefer a treat-like medication by mouth then one of these products may be the best choice. Talk to us about which may fit better with your pets age and lifestyle.
K9 Advantix is a topical option for tick prevention. The main advantage of the topical product is that some ticks are killed before they bite and attach. You may still see some dead attached ticks but this should be less common then with an oral product. With topical products you are also very unlikely to have any vomiting and diarrhea afterwards but some local skin irritation has been reported.
Even the best tick preventatives will not fully protect your pet from Lyme disease. They will reduce the opportunity for ticks to transmit Lyme disease but not eliminate it all together. Lyme vaccine offers dogs another layer of protection. It is a good option for dogs that are camping, hiking or spending time anywhere near long grass. If you saw ticks on your dog last year then this may be a good choice for you. Certainly Lyme disease is not the only disease that ticks carry but it is still the most common in this area.
Lastly I would like to consider protection of our feline patients. We have fewer options in this regard. Bravecto, Nexgard and K9 Advantix all cover dogs only and it is VERY important not to give these products to cats as toxicity will result. We are still recommending Revolution as the best tick protection for our outdoor cats. The good news here is that cats have not been proven to suffer from clinical Lyme disease. They can be exposed to the bacteria through tick bites and their immune systems will respond but there are no reported cases of cats becoming ill at this time and vaccination is not needed for our feline overlords …I mean friends…really…friends.