It used to only be hunting dogs or animals that spent time near a wooded cottage with their families in the summertime that would raise concern for tick borne infection. However, in recent years the diagnosis of tick related infection has increased. This has been prevalent in both human and veterinary medicine over the past years. In fact, in the state of Illinois Lyme infection in humans has more than tripled from 2005-2017.
Due to the prevalence of tick related Illness we have started screening for tick related infection with annual heartworm testing. This test, a 4DX screens for exposure to Lyme disease, Ehrlicia, and Anaplasmosis in addition to heartworm disease. With this increased screening we are seeing the same prevalence paralleling the trend in human medicine. More and more of our dogs who are “just in the yard” are testing positive for exposure to tick borne illness. The Companion Animal Parasite Council 2017 data revealed that approximately 6 % of dogs tested in Cook County tested positive for a tick-borne illness. To put that into perspective that is approximately 5,000 dogs in Cook County infected with a tick-borne illness.
While tick borne infections can be treatable, they can also have severe consequences. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The advances in flea and tick prevention in the past few years have been truly impressive. Before our prevention options for tick borne infections were limited. Now we have several topical and oral options.
Topical preparations like Vectra are excellent and can even help repeal insects. However, these can leave residues on pets which owners find unappealing. Furthermore, topical preparations can be washed off, and require the pet have not been in water several days prior to application. Oral preventatives seem to be the new key in prevention. Bravecto, a newer oral preventative protects against most ticks and fleas for three months! While some oral preventatives cannot be used in patients with seizures this product has no such warning. Also, the other advantage to Bravecto is it can never be washed off! We are often asked if the preventative is oral how does it kill ticks before the transmit the infection? Great question! Tick infections take 24-48 hours of being attached to transmit infection, Bravecto kills ticks within 12 hours preventing infection.
In short preventing ticks and their associated infections is key. We recommend tick prevention April through December. In fact shortly after the Spring thaw ticks start to procreate, and look for hosts! Bravecto kills ticks fast before disease transmission can occur. Oral preventatives are easy to use, palatable and do not leave a sticky residue on your pet!