Ticks, Fleas & Other Bibittes

Just back from the North American Veterinary Conference. Whenever I tell people that I have been to a conference, they wink knowingly. What they don’t realize is that for veterinarians, these conferences must be attended.  It has become so sophisticated that they scan your badge when you enter, and when you exit. This is so you can prove to your Order that you have done the obligatory hours, which is now 40 hours. I did 32 hours in 5 days, which at my age, is pretty good. The old neurons don’t work as they used to, and sometimes postprandial lectures lead to a soporific stupor.

So what did I learn? Well, getting updates on new developments is always exciting. Meeting old colleagues (like my old partner Dr. Schmieder) is rewarding. But just being around fellow animal lovers and the excitement of the field rejuvenates me.

Some few tidbits- there is a new medication called a JAKSTAT inhibitor for our dogs who are allergy sufferers. Less side effects than cortisone, more effective than antihistamines- it should be available in Canada in the near future. Of course, diet, topicals, omega’s are the mainstay of these cases.

Nutraceuticals are now starting to be evaluated for efficacy.  Some interesting studies in behavior medicine with green tea extract, s-AME, Alpha-casozepine (from cow’s milk). The general accepted rule is that the product must have a concentration and expiry date- if it does not, then question its efficacy. As no one is regulating these products, some may not have what they say they do. There is a new testing group called NAVS which will tests “natural” supplements to ensure they have what they have in their product, as well as checks out the facilities they are produced in. But beware- often these products will cost as much or even more than real medication. They won’t save you money.

Finally, the scoop on Lyme and Leptospirosis. Lepto now is considered to be a first diagnostic for dogs under the weight of 20 pounds in urban areas when not well. Why? Because traditionally we don’t vaccinate for Lepto in small breeds thinking they are not as high a risk. However, because of urban wildlife (raccoons being the worse offenders, squirrels and rodents the next), small breeds are just as affected- even more so. So now the specialists say it should be a part of the core vaccine protocol. Fortunately, the vaccines are better than ever and have less side effects. However, if they should react poorly, then we don’t recommend doing the vaccine.

We are told that we are at the edge of having an epidemic of Lymes disease similar to what is seen in the Eastern US. Right now, it is endemic, but we are told that we should be more pro-active on preventing its spread. There are 3 ways to combat tick borne disease: 1. 4dx test- which tests for 3 of them and heartworm. We sort of went to an every 2nd year approach, but if your dog is not vaccinated against Lyme or on a tick prevention, you should consider it annually if you can afford it

2.. Tick prevention- beware of long grasses, examine after a walk and use some of the newer anti-tick products. My personal favorite is Bravecto which is NOT a pesticide, and has action for 3 months, or Nexguard which must be given monthly.

3. Lyme vaccine- which protects against lymes, but not other tick born diseases.

My dog gets all 3- test, prevention and vaccine.

As spring is fast approaching, it is important to talk to your vet as to what is best for your companion. Remember, ticks have an early spring arrival, while heartworm and fleas tend to be a little later in the season.