Insight on the bite: Supporting and learning about Lyme disease in Loudoun County

Leesburg Veterinary Hospital is proud to support Lyme disease awareness by taking part in the Loudoun Lyme 5K and one mile fun run.  This annual event, which raises money for the National Capital Lyme Disease Association, will take place at 8AM on Sunday May 18th at the Brambleton Town Center in Ashburn. Lace up your running shoes and join LVH for a morning run to support this local cause.   If you – and your pooch- would like to be a part of the LVH race team, please contact our front desk, or look for us bright and early at the starting line this Sunday morning!

loudounlyme-2014-346x116

Learn more and register for the event here.

Lyme Disease Awareness?  What’s the big deal?

Loudoun County has one of the highest rates of Lyme infection in the United States and the highest prevalence in the state of Virginia.

Lyme disease is transmitted by the deer tick.  Ticks are common parasites that can be found anywhere- from heavily wooded areas, to urban parks, and even steps from your house in your own backyard! Ticks on dogs usually occur when your pets have fun in long grass or wooded areas; these ticks like to hang around these areas waiting for a host to feed on.  In most cases, they’ll hitch a ride on your dog’s fur as he’s walking, running, or playing. Once attached, they remain on their host for hours or days depending on when they finish eating.  Lyme disease is transmitted from the deer tick and the symptoms may only be noticeable after months of the dog originally being infected. Symptoms of Lyme Disease include fever, fatigue, stiff and painful joints, and loss of appetite.

The two year life cycle of the deer tick. Image source: http://www.mainelyticks.com/images/PTMe-Life-cycle-102010.jpg

The two year life cycle of the deer tick.
Image source: http://www.mainelyticks.com/images/PTMe-Life-cycle-102010.jpg

 

So does this mean you can’t enjoy outdoor activities with your pet without the fear of getting Lyme Disease? Of course not! The risks Lyme disease poses to you and your pets can be minimized with several active preventative measures.

The most effective protection for dogs includes a combination of regular tick checks by you, a year round preventative such as Frontline, and annual blood testing and vaccination.  When doing tick checks at home, don’t forget to look in and around the ears and paws.  For cats, Lyme disease is uncommon; currently there is no in-clinic test or vaccination, however, we do recommend regular tick checks and a topical preventative for cats that spend time outdoors.

With so many ticks preventatives readily available (from both your veterinarian and over-the-counter), it can be confusing to know which ones are best for your pet.  The ideal medication should be easy to give or apply, safe, effective, and readily available all year round.  It is important to treat your pet during the winter months as parasites can thrive year round in the relatively mild Virginia climate.   These preventative medications should be the appropriate size/dosage for your dog or cat, and specifically meant for your pet’s species (Medications labeled for dogs should never be used on cats, and vice versa).  And while many topical medications are available at big-box retailers, we strongly recommend purchasing your preventatives through LVH or our online pharmacy to ensure the product is safe and coming directly from the manufacturer. (To read more about the importance of knowing where your medications come from, read one of our previous posts here).

 

Don't let ticks stand in your way of exploring the great outdoors this summer!  Image source: Ellen Zangla Photography

Don’t let ticks stand in your way of exploring the great outdoors this summer! Image source: Ellen Zangla Photography

 

We are currently recommending a new topical preventative- Frontline Tritak for all of our canine and outdoor feline patients.    This product – from the makers of Frontline Plus- is more effective and faster in killing ticks, as well as fleas, their eggs, and larvae.   When purchased through your veterinarian, Frontline’s manufacturer, Merial, guarantees to pay for your pet’s treatment should they test positive for Lyme disease.  Merial also operates a toll-free customer line to assist pet owners with any questions or concerns they may have with the use of Frontline.  Leesburg Veterinary Hospital is also able to offer you special veterinarian discounts from Merial that are not available at retail stores.  To learn more about Frontline Tritak, visit their website or talk to your veterinarian.

 

A little preventative care will go a long way in helping to prevent tick infestation and Lyme Disease. Image source: www.frontlinetritak.com

A little preventative care will go a long way in helping to prevent tick infestation and Lyme Disease.
Image source: http://www.frontlinetritak.com

 

 

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