Tick-borne diseases are a hot issue across the country. Recently, local, city and state-wide newspapers have published articles about the subject. Even The New York Times deemed the issue worthy and wrote an editorial about Lyme disease in people on Sunday, September 22.
But I particularly noticed a feature story in the current issue of Purina ProClub’s Update . More than any other source, this piece was clear and concise. In addition, an excellent chart (Common Tick-Borne Diseases in Dogs) was included that detailed disease name, tick carrier, pathogen and signs for each of the seven common, tick-borne diseases in dogs.
From that article, listed below are some interesting facts about ticks and tick-borne diseases that all dog-owners need to understand.
• Tick populations are at an all-time high this year.
• Ticks don’t usually transmit disease until 24 to 48 hours after attachment.
• Ticks often transmit multiple diseases simultaneously.
Diagnosis is tricky and complicated.
• 50% or more of dogs living in Lyme disease endemic regions have positive titers (blood tests) but don’t show symptoms and so aren’t sick.
• Other tick-borne diseases can cause positive titers also but, again, the dog doesn’t show symptoms and so isn’t sick.
• The most common indicators of tick-borne disease are nonspecific, such as lethargy, decreased appetite and gastrointestinal signs.
• There is no perfect test* for tick-borne diseases. A veterinarian should use a combination of historical information, physical examination findings, laboratory tests and how well a dog responds to treatment.
Jerry and I are extremely pro-active about ticks throughout the year but especially during spring and fall when they seem to be most prevalent. We’ve cobbled together our own protocol.
1. We regularly monitor dogs for ticks, which isn’t difficult because they are easily noticed by petting and stroking.
2. After time in the woods or fields, we check for ticks. We use a narrow-toothed comb that works well.
3. We vaccinate puppies with LymeVax by Pfizer (requires two shots the first year) and then administer an annual booster.
4. During spring and fall, we apply the topical Canine Advantix II every three weeks. This repels and kills black-legged ticks (deer tick), brown dog ticks, American dog ticks and lone star ticks. Active ingredients are imidacloprid, permethrin and pyriproxyfen. It is waterproof but the dog must be dry for 24 hours both before and after application.
5. During spring and fall, we put on a Preventic Tick Collar by Virbac. This aids in the prevention of Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and babesiosis. Active ingredient is Amitraz. We have one serious precaution—don’t allow a dog to ingest the collar. It only took one time for Jerry and me to learn our lesson. We had two young dogs kenneled together and one chewed the tick collar off the other. All we found was the metal buckle. She became very ill but after induced vomiting and several worrisome days, she survived.
Seresto is a new tick collar from Bayer, introduced in January 2013. This collar slowly releases a chemical that stays on the coat of the dog for the eight-month protection period. Upon the recommendation of our vet, we didn’t try it. He was uncomfortable with the possibility of the chemical’s exposure to people through petting and handling. We’ll revisit this option as more information becomes available.
Even with all the monitoring Jerry and I do and the precautions we take, several of our dogs have become ill with a tick-borne disease. If we notice tell-tale symptoms, we consult with our vet and usually administer the antibiotic doxycycline for 28 days. For puppies, we use amoxicillin. Generally, the symptoms disappear within one or two days and the dog is on the mend.
* Dr. Linda Kidd, Western University of Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine in Pomona, California, is leading a one-year research project. Among other issues, her study will determine if comprehensive testing, i.e., using both tests (serology and PCR) instead of the current protocol wherein vets usually test one sample using one test. Another possibility is to test more than one sample.
The two tests are:
Serology detects the presence of antibody, which is one product of the body’s immune response against a pathogen.
PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) screening detects the nucleic acid, the DNA, of the organism itself.
From a quality entry of 62 dogs, Houston’s Blue Diamond was named Runner-Up Champion in the National Amateur Pheasant Shooting Dog Championship. Diamond was handled by his owner, Ross Leonard, of Cloudland, Georgia. The trial was held in August near Circle, Montana, and run on native pheasant, Hungarian partridge and sharp-tailed grouse. The judges were Jim Michaletz of Goodman, Missouri, and Harold Ray of Waynesboro, Georgia.
Diamond was bred in 2006 by Paul Hauge who used his favorite sire Houston (via frozen semen) to Forest Ridge Jewel. This is the second year in a row that a setter from Paul’s “Houston” line has placed in that championship–the 2012 winner was Ridge Creek Cody (CH Can’t Go Wrong x CH Houston’s Belle).
Congratulations to Ross, Diamond and Paul!
Click (Another champion: Houston’s Blue Diamond) for a post about a previous Diamond placement.
August is a busy month! Dan, Jeff and I meet at the kennel early and then head off for our particular duties.
We’re finishing up this year’s Gun Dog training using wild-acting bobwhite quail that are flushed into grouse cover. In our Puppy Foundation program, we start young dogs on pigeons and bobwhite quail. We train older dogs on local sharp-tailed grouse and take a select group to the prairie each weekend for work on sharp-tails, pheasants and Huns. We also begin serious conditioning and tune-up training for the coming hunting season.
For today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune Outdoors section, Jerry and I co-authored a piece, “Young dog’s first grouse season tells tale.” Yesterday was the season opener for ruffed grouse in Minnesota and the northern part of Wisconsin.
The key components of the article were fairly easy for us to put together.
Of all the training levels we offer, Jerry especially likes to work with young dogs, which includes bringing them through their first hunting season. A significant portion of my responsibilities includes rearing and developing puppies. Not only do we both love spending lots of time with young dogs but it’s the best way to evaluate our breeding program.
“The process of developing a puppy into an experienced grouse dog begins with the all-important first season,” we wrote. We then detailed four important considerations “to make the most of this time.”
• Owner preparedness
• Exposure to grouse—lots of grouse
• How to handle in the woods
• Owner attitude and expectations
Our sincere thanks to Dennis Anderson, Outdoors Columnist and Editor, for offering us the opportunity.
Much attention—too much, in my opinion—is focused on the tail of a bird dog. I refer not to what the tail indicates about a dog’s thoughts or emotions but rather how the tail looks when a dog is on point and, in particular, how straight and vertical it is.
“Poker straight,” “I like a straight stick” or “My dog points with a 12 o’clock tail” are familiar phrases used by those fixated on tails. Usually, they are inexperienced or demand little of their dogs. I recently spoke with a successful handler of horseback shooting dogs about a prospect. In our entire conversation, he never once asked how the dog’s tail looked on point.
In my experience, when bird dogs are used to pursue wild birds, whether in the open, the grouse woods or the southern piney woods, birds are rarely plentiful. In addition, the terrain can be rugged and the conditions tough. Most of the dog’s time is spent in the search for game. In these places it’s not the tail that finds birds.
Instead, what finds birds is:
1) intelligence combined with experience that chooses the most likely places;
2) an efficient gait that allows the search to continue over long periods of time through punishing cover and circumstances;
3) a superb nose that draws the dog towards the faintest scent of birds and allows it to locate and point accurately.
Finally, at the conclusion of all that work and for a brief time, I see the dog on point. I notice its posture, intensity and focus on bird location. And, oh yeah, I look at the tail. Very often and especially under trying field conditions, the tail isn’t “poker straight” or “12 o’clock.”
And it doesn’t have to be. The tail needs to be good enough so it doesn’t detract from the essential qualities that brought the dog to that place. On the other hand, if the dog has the intelligence, the gait, the nose and a beautiful tail, then that’s like the cherry on an ice cream sundae.