Lyme disease is a serious threat – get prepared!

tick

tick

This month there have been 4,103 new positive cases for Lyme in PA.

There has now been a total of 23,655 positive cases for Lyme in PA for the year.

If that doesn’t scare you, it should. In fact, in 2013, 95% of confirmed lyme disease cases came from 14 states, including Pennsylvania. So let’s brush up on what lyme disease is and precautions to take.

What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial disease caused by Borrelia burgdorferi (boar-ELL-ee-uh burg-dorf-ERR-eye). Within 1 to 2 weeks of being infected, people may have a “bull’s-eye” rash with fever, headache, and muscle or joint pain. Some people have Lyme disease and do not have any early symptoms. Other people have a fever and other “flu-like” symptoms without a rash.

After several days or weeks, the bacteria may spread throughout the body of an infected person. These people can get symptoms such as rashes in other parts of the body, pain that seems to move from joint to joint, and signs of inflammation of the heart or nerves. If the disease is not treated, a few patients can get additional symptoms, such as swelling and pain in major joints or mental changes, months after getting infected.


Can animals transmit Lyme disease to me?

Yes, but not directly. People get Lyme disease when they are bitten by ticks carrying B. burgdorferi. Ticks that carry Lyme disease are very small and can be hard to see. These tiny ticks bite mice infected with Lyme disease and then bite people or other animals, such as dogs and horses, passing the disease to them.


How can I protect myself from Lyme disease?

  • with ticks, particularly in spring and summer when nymphal ticks feed.
  • If you are in an area with ticks, you should wear light-colored clothing so that ticks can be spotted more easily and removed before becoming attached.
  • If you are in an area with ticks, wear long-sleeved shirts, and tuck your pants into socks. You may also want to wear high rubber boots (since ticks are usually located close to the ground).
  • Application of insect repellents containing DEET (n,n-diethyl-m-toluamide) to clothes and exposed skin, and permethrin (which kills ticks on contact) to clothes, should also help reduce the risk of tick attachment. DEET can be used safely on children and adults but should be applied according to Environmental Protection Agency guidelines to reduce the possibility of toxicity.
  • Since transmission of B. burgdorferi from an infected tick is unlikely to occur before 36 hours of tick attachment, check for ticks daily and remove them promptly. Embedded ticks should be removed by using fine-tipped tweezers. Cleanse the area with an antiseptic.
  • You can reduce the number of ticks around your home by removing leaf litter, and brush and wood piles around your house and at the edge of your yard. By clearing trees and brush in your yard, you can reduce the likelihood that deer, rodents, and ticks will live there.

How can I find more information about Lyme disease?
Learn more about Lyme disease, including answers to frequently asked questions, the natural history of Lyme disease and a narrated documentary at CDC’s Lyme disease website at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/lyme.

A Day in the Life of Nikki Kline: The Kong

dog playing with the kongMost pet toys have a lot of flash to attract our attention, either squeakers, bright colors or lots of great stuffing that at some point will probably be shredded all over your floor. The Kong, however, is overall kinda plain, a hard rubber cone-shaped thing that is usually either red or black with 2 holes. Yet for me (meaning my sanity, not that I usually chew on one), it was one of the best toys ever invented.

As I’ve mentioned before, Freya was a loving, unruly and hyperactive hooligan when I got her, and needed basically constant amusement. I decided to give the Kong a shot and see if I could get just a bit of down time. So, initially, I used just the Kong treats and shoved them in it. Freya looked at it for a few minutes, licked the top and proceeded to be totally unimpressed. She, at that point, hadn’t realized the “fun” of a challenge to work things out of this magical piece of rubber. I then decided to make it easier and more appealing. I put tiny treats that easily fell out of the hole in it, and surrounded the top with a strip of peanut butter. This attracted her attention, and she, immediately, started licking out the peanut butter, rolling it and dropping it on the floor.

As she decided she liked it more and more, she also became much faster at dumping the treats out of the Kong, and I did not become faster at showering or watching TV. So we decided to up the ante a bit, and I started actually stuffing the Kong with “treats” from top to bottom, and making it a challenge to lick them out. This worked for a while but amazingly she still kept learning faster ways to extract the treats.

I decided it was time for some serious research! In doing this, I discovered there was almost a whole Kong culture, people have put everything in these, and they have whole websites dedicated strictly to Kong recipes. Please note, I’m not necessarily recommending trying all of them. (There were plenty that I referred to as either pancreatitis or diarrhea in Kong form, which isn’t fun for anyone.) But they had some great ideas, and I set off in the kitchen slicing bananas, chopping apples, swirling yogurt and dog food together and in general making the whole kitchen look like it exploded.

For quite some time, I had at least 4 Kongs in my freezer at all times, and she didn’t eat food out of a bowl for several months. We were both excited to see what kind of new and exciting recipe would be coming out of the freezer next.

She continued to become more creative in finding out new ways to wiggle the stuff free inside, and her newest plan was to stand at the top of the stairs and throw the Kong down them, leaving lovely bits and pieces of food everywhere, and finally having it crash into the front door usually creating a “jackpot”. Oddly enough, this was an ok price to pay to be able to shower, get the mail or watch TV without constant bouncing happening around me.

Nikki Kline, Veterinary Technician
French Creek Veterinary Hospital
www.frenchcreekvet.com

Take precautions with your pets in hot summer weather

dog on beach chair

Protect pets this summer during hot weather

Admit it – winter seemed to last forever this year! We were all itching to get out in the yard, to the pool, to the beach, or just on a long walk without freezing to death. Is it hot enough for you now? I bet it’s hot enough for your dog.

We at PVMA have a selection of consumer and client fact sheets, one of the most important of which is Hot Weather Tips for Pets. I’ll list some of the most important tips here, but please consider downloading our fact sheet. It’s free to print for yourself or to copy and distribute to friends and clients.

Ok, here goes!

Do not leave your pet alone in your car
This should be a no brainer, but its seems every few days there is some numb skull in the news who has left their child, their dog, or both lockedi in the car as temperatures soar. Vehicles heat quickly in the sun, and animals left in them can succumb to heat stroke in a very short time. Signs to watch for are: heavy, loud breathing, a staggering gait, and a bright red tongue or gum tissue. If heat stroke is suspected, get the animal to a cool place, put cold compresses on his belly, or wet him down. This is a medical emergency—take him to your veterinarian as quickly as possible.

Limit exercise
To prevent him or her from overheating, don’t let your dog exercise in hot weather. If you want to run with your dog, do it in the cool hours of the early morning or late evening.

Keep cool
Dogs and cats need a cool, shady place to sleep during hot weather, as well as plenty of clean, fresh water, accessible at all times. Feed your dog or cat in the cooler hours of the day. Older animals have a hard time in hot weather, so be extra sensitive to their needs during the hottest hours of the day.

Vaccinate!
Be sure that your pet’s vaccinations are up to date. Parvo virus, an illness that flourishes in hot weather, can be fatal to dogs that have not received their vaccinations. Also, be sure your pet’s rabies vaccinations are current. During the summer months, pets often spend more time outdoors, and the chances of encounters with wildlife (possible rabies carriers) increase.

These tips and more can help you and your pet enjoy a summer full of fun together, but be sure to download our Hot Weather Tips for Pets fact sheet to learn even more!

It’s Dog Bite Prevention Week

dog

Brush up on some tips of interacting with dogs to avoid being bitten.

A dog. Man’s best friend. A loyal companion. Provider of unconditional love.

A biter? Could be.

A study found there were 70 million dogs in the United States, and the truth is, any one of them could bite. Even yours. Dogs don’t always bite because they’re mean. They could have food aggression, have been sleeping and been startled, or maybe they are hurt or scared. Many things besides a nasty disposition can make even the sweetest dog react with a bite.

Most bites that happen in the US happen to children and could have been prevented. That’s why it’s important for children and adults alike to have some basic dog etiquette. Here are a few tips:

  1. When meeting a new dog, ask permission from the owner. They will be able to tell you if the dog is friendly with strangers.
  2. Ask the owner the dog’s name. Calling it by name can help relax it.
  3. Never hug a dog you have just met. Many dogs don’t like to be hugged period, let alone by a stranger.
  4. Don’t reach for the dog’s face. Pet a new dog on it’s side, chest or back.

For more information, here are some additional resources that we like:

PVMA Dog Bite Prevention Fact Sheet
http://www.pavma.org/images/fact_sheets/Dog_Bite_Prevention.pdf
This downloadable fact sheet

Puppies’n Dogs
www.puppiesndogs.com
This site is a wealth of information about dog breeds and their temperaments, size, grooming needs, and more. Find out which breed would be a good fit for your family or to add to a dog you already have. You can view breeders, search for available puppies, place an ad, or buy dog supplies. The blog section also has a wealth of information on a variety of topics, including dog bite prevention.

Dog Bite Prevention and Children
http://www.vet.utk.edu/dogbiteprevention/
This colorful, interactive website is designed to make learning about dog bite prevention fun. With games, puzzles, word searches, and printable items such as puppets and coloring books, kids won’t even realize they’re learning while they’re having fun.

Doggone Safe
http://www.doggonesafe.com 
This site is dedicated to dog bite prevention with categories for pet owners, bite victims, seasonal tips, and a section for kids with activities.

It’s National Pet ID Week

dog and boy

Make sure the family pet can find his way home by using pet identification.

So, it’s Pet ID Week – do you know where your pets are?

Just kidding. But are you prepared if you didn’t know where they were? Someone might have left a door open by mistake, or your dog saw something it wanted like a rabbit or squirrel while you were out on a walk, or it was bored and tunneled under or jumped over your fence – whatever the case may be, you’re pet needs proper identification. That way when a good Samaritan picks up your pet and takes it to a veterinarian, animal shelter, groomer, or elsewhere, you can be reunited with your pet that much sooner.

A scary statistic is that a family pet is lost every 2 seconds across the country. Another one is that a large, healthy dog can run up to five miles. Depending on where you live that could mean a whole lot of traffic or wildlife. To keep your pets safe, here are some methods of pet ID:

  1. ID tags. ID tags which are attached to the pet’s collar include the pet’s name, the owner’s name, and contact information. This method is also nice because the person who finds your pet doesn’t have to take it anywhere. They can contact you directly from the information on the tag. These are inexpensive and extremely helpful, but remember that your pet has to be wearing the collar for it to make any difference.  If you only put their collar on to go outside or for walks, you may want an additional form of protection.
  2. Like microchipping. Microchipping has become very popular in the last few years, and is a good back up plan if your pet escapes without its collar and ID tag. Your pet doesn’t need to be sedated for it to be implanted, and most veterinary practices and animal shelters now have scanners in order to scan your pet and bring up your contact information. Just remember that once your pet has had the chip implanted, you need to register that chip to your contact information, and if your information changes, you need to update that microchip account. Too often people change phone number, email, or move altogether without updating that information and then even though the lost pet is scanned, the person with your pet can’t find you.

April is Prevention of Lyme Disease in Dogs Month

tick

tick

Ok, so April has quite a few things attached to it (Prevent of cruelty to animals, Pet first aid awareness, etc.), but for today’s purposes, we’re preventing lyme disease! Or trying to. As this week – here in Central PA anyway – is the first week that’s had any hint of spring to it at all. Your dogs are likely itching to get outside and play, and unfortunately, so are the ticks.

So what is Lyme Disease anyway?
Lyme disease is a bacterial disease caused by Borrelia burgdorferi (boar-ELL-ee-uh burg-dorf-ERR-eye). Within 1 to 2 weeks of being infected, people may have a “bull’s-eye” rash with fever, headache, and muscle or joint pain. Some people have Lyme disease and do not have any early symptoms. Other people have a fever and other “flu-like” symptoms without a rash.

After several days or weeks, the bacteria may spread throughout the body of an infected person. These people can get symptoms such as rashes in other parts of the body, pain that seems to move from joint to joint, and signs of inflammation of the heart or nerves. If the disease is not treated, a few patients can get additional symptoms, such as swelling and pain in major joints or mental changes, months after getting infected.

How can I protect myself from Lyme disease?

  • Whenever possible, you should avoid entering areas that are likely to be infested with ticks, particularly in spring and summer when nymphal ticks feed.
  • If you are in an area with ticks, you should wear light-colored clothing so that ticks can be spotted more easily and removed before becoming attached.
  • If you are in an area with ticks, wear long-sleeved shirts, and tuck your pants into socks. You may also want to wear high rubber boots (since ticks are usually located close to the ground).

For more information on protecting yourself and your pets from Lyme disease, download our PVMA Lyme Disease fact sheet with more precautions and information. Learn more about Lyme disease, including answers to frequently asked questions, the natural history of Lyme disease and a narrated documentary at CDC’s Lyme disease website at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/lyme.  

It’s Poison Prevention Week – How Much Do You Know?

Lilies are extremely poisonous to cats.

Lilies are extremely poisonous to cats.

Happy Poison Prevention Week!

We’re going to cut to the chase and address some of the ways our furry friends can become sick and how to prevent it. I guarantee you some of these possibilities are downright scary as many of them include things in and around your home. Let’s get started.

Cats and lilies don’t mix
Everyone thinks of dog as the ones who will eat anything – and they will – but cats can be sneaky too. Many forms of lilies are extremely poisonous to cats. Some of the most dangerous are known as the Tiger, Day, Asiatic, Easter, or Japanese show lily, resulting in acute kidney failure when eaten. Just 2-3 leaves or lily pollen groomed off the fur and ingested can be enough to poison your pet. While it won’t cause kidney failure in dogs, ingesting enough will cause some stomach issues.
GET OUR PVMA FACT SHEET


Poisonous plants

Most people think of pesticides or other common household substances can be poisonous to pets but don’t consider that common indoor and outdoor plants and fruit leaves can be equally toxic. What follows is not a comprehensive list but can help you keep your pets safe around plants that can harm them. If you suspect that your pet has ingested any toxic substance, contact your veterinarian, emergency animal clinic, or poison control center immediately. Keep these important numbers by the phone or on the refrigerator so that you can find them easily during an emergency.
GET OUR PVMA FACT SHEET


Household items

Endless things in the home could pose a danger to your pet, but human medications generally top the list as the most ingested. Keeping medications as well as household cleaners, first aid items, antifreeze, and other chemicals should always be kept out of reach of pets. Even harmless seeming items like chewing gum, caffeine, and some fruits and vegetables can be deadly. Click here to view a more complete list from Pet Poison Helpline.
Pet Poison Helpline
As always, Pet Poison Helpline has an enormous amount of resources in it’s Pet Owner arsenal so that you can better educate yourself to prevent accidental poisonings. They also have a toll-free number – 855-764-7661 – which you can call anytime if you suspect your pet has been poisoned, or call your veterinarian.