Washtenaw Veterinary Hospital

Special Edition: Tick-Borne Diseases

Focus On: Lyme Disease

Spring is officially here and that means warmer weather and plenty of sunshine. It also means mosquitos, ticks, and fleas are back and it's time to start your pet's prevention if you haven't yet. Our doctors have already diagnosed several acute cases of Lyme disease this year and our annual report from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has named Washtenaw County as a high-risk area for this disease.

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and it is transmitted through tick bites. The most common tick to carry this disease is the deer tick, which is a tiny black insect that can live in forests, grassy areas, marshes, near lakes and oceans, and even in your own back yard. Ticks pick up this bacterial infection from deer and rodents, which are abundant in Michigan.

Pets infected with Lyme disease may not show signs for 2-5 months and then the symptoms can be very vague. Typical signs can be mild or severe and include fever, lethargy, swollen joints, intermittent lameness, and loss of appetite. This disease can be treated with an extended course of antibiotics, but prevention is always the best option. Dogs and outdoor cats should be kept on flea and tick prevention unless there is snow sticking to the ground (and hopefully we're done with snow for a while!).

It is important to check for ticks on your pets and yourself after spending time outdoors. We've already found ticks on some of our patients this year. We carry Frontline Gold, Nexgard, and Bravecto for tick prevention in dogs, which gives you both topical and oral options. We have recently started carrying topical Frontline Gold for cats also so your feline family members can also be protected.

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From the Desk of Dr. Eberly

I am sure most of you have seen recent reports that the number of people contracting tick-borne diseases in the U.S. has tripled over the last few years. We are seeing this same phenomenon in our patient population, specifically with Lyme disease and Anaplasmosis. Sadly, we are also seeing a re-emergence of heart worm disease, which is transmitted by mosquitoes. The longer, warmer winters we've had the last few years, combined with an increased population of white-tailed deer, migrating birds, and an influx of rescue animals from the south has increased the flea and tick population in Michigan. We began seeing animals with fleas and attached ticks at the end of February this year.

Above you can see the Michigan Lyme Disease Risk Map, which shows the prevalence of this disease in each county. Unfortunately, Washtenaw and Livingston counties have the highest prevalence. Unfortunately, Washtenaw and Livingston counties are in the highest risk category.

As the medical director at WVH, one of my responsibilities is to keep our staff and clients up to date on the best diagnostics, treatments, and prevention protocols. Our clinic has put together a plan to protect our patients from flea, tick, and mosquito transmitted diseases using the current best medical practices. As part of this plan, it is the responsibility of the pet owners to do the following to keep their pets safe and healthy:

1. Heartworm prevention, every month, all year round: Heartworm prevention not only prevents heartworm disease but it deworms pets for many common intestinal parasites each month. Many pets continue to eat wildlife feces and other sources of intestinal parasites throughout the winter. Early spring is when we see the most pets infected with intestinal parasites because they have not received their heartworm prevention during the winter months. It is also impossible to predict when mosquitos (which carry heartworm disease) will be active with warmer winters, so we can no longer look at preventative medicine as a seasonal responsibility.

2. Flea and tick prevention should be used a minimum of 9 months of the year: Our clinic has seen a three-fold increase in tick disease exposure and the incidence map shows that we are in a high risk area for tick-borne illness. Prevention is no longer only for dogs that play in the woods. WVH recommends tick prevention from the beginning of March through the month of November at minimum. If we have warm weather in December, January, or February then pets should be protected during those months as well. Ticks do not die in the winter but survive under layers of leaves, brush, decks, and crawl spaces and become active as soon as the weather is above freezing.

3. The Lyme vaccine is now recommend for most canine patients: we would not recommend it for patients with a history of vaccine reactions or those that are immune-compromised. Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi and the tick needs to be attached for 48 hours in order to transmit the disease. Deer ticks that carry Lyme disease are very small and difficult to find so vaccination is an important part of prevention. Dogs 12 weeks of age or older should initially receive two vaccines, 2-4 weeks apart and annual booster vaccines thereafter.

If you have any questions about prevention, Lyme vaccines, or the disease process in general you can ask any of the doctors at Washtenaw Veterinary Hospital. I am also happy to answer questions via email at ceberly@wvhcares.com. Below you will find our 2018 prevention offers, including how to maximize discounts and rebates. Please remember that unlike online products our preventatives are guaranteed by the manufacturer. Please also note that with our coupons and rebates we are comparable to online pricing. When deciding to buy preventatives please remember that we appreciate your support as a local business and that your support will allow us to continue to keep other costs including services and labs as low as possible.

Prevention Promotions

We have some excellent rebates, deals, and offers on our flea, tick, and heartworm prevention this year. We sell Heartgard and Sentinel for heartworm prevention in dogs. Both are oral and need to be given once per month. This year, if you purchase 12 doses of Heartgard you will get a $12 rebate. Purchase 6 doses of Sentinel and get a $7 or purchase 12 months and get a $20 rebate.

For cats, we recommend topical Revolution for heartworm and intestinal parasite prevention. This also needs to be given once per month. If you purchase 6 doses of Revolution for your kitty you will get 2 doses free. Purchase 9 doses for your kitty and you'll get 3 doses free, which will keep them covered for the full year!

We recommend flea and tick prevention for all patients and we sell both topical and oral options for dogs. Frontline Gold is a topical prevention that needs to be applied once per month and if you purchase 3 doses you can get 1 dose free. Purchase 6 doses and you get 2 doses free! Nexgard is a monthly oral chew and if you purchase 6 doses you will get 1 for free. Also if you purchase 12 doses of Heartgard AND 12 doses of either Frontline Gold or Nexgard, you will get a $50 rebate!

We also sell Bravecto for dogs which is an oral flea and tick prevention that needs to be given once every 3 months. If you purchase 2 doses of Bravecto you will receive a $15 rebate.

If you have any questions about our current promotions please call the clinic and speak to any of our knowledgeable staff members!

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