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Pet Talk Column: Ticks and Mosquitoes

Written By Timothy Knight on 5/21/15 | 5/21/15

Be sure to read this story and more in The Schoharie News - now available countywide for 75 cents per paper.

The sun is shining, grass is growing, leaves are filling in and a warm breeze is blanketing the landscape. We are all getting out of our cooped up states from a long winter season; but we aren't the only ones; so are the ticks and mosquitoes. 

According to an April 30th, 2015 report from CAPC (Companion Animal Parasite Council), which is the leading source of data about internal and external parasites that can, are or will threaten the health of people and pets; ticks and mosquitoes are expected to be at an all time high and will spread this year. Their prediction is based on temperatures, precipitation and population densities.

There has been a misconception that because a pet stays indoors or is of the exotic variety, that they can’t pick up one of these disease carrying organisms. It’s also been thought that they are only active in warmer months. It just isn't the case anymore. 

Ticks and mosquitoes are considered zoonotic organisms or those that transmit disease to both humans and pets year round and why they are of such great concern. A variety of animal species are susceptible; even ones thought previously not to be affected. Ticks carry many diseases but the 3 most prevalent in our area are Lyme, Erlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis.

The most common mosquito diseases for our area are Heartworm and West Nile. Most animals are affected by mosquitoes and ticks and the diseases they carry, including reptiles and birds. Both of these animal species have soft skin areas not protected by feathers or scales. Ticks and mosquitoes are adaptable and the diseases they carry are as well. A recent report found Heartworm in whistling swans, so it just goes to show that prevention, and protection of yourself and your pets is vital to everyone’s health and wellbeing. 

Indoor pets are just as at risk as those going out. As pet owners, we are in and out of our homes several times a day. With each opening of the door, there lies the availability of space for mosquitoes and ticks to enter. We can carry them in on our clothes, shoes, hair or even things we carry in. They can be on plants we bring into the home from a local nursery or wood for the stove. These organisms are designed to find a way to get a blood meal. Their survival depends on it. 

So, what do you do against these invasive and very harmful organisms?     

The first step is to take your pet to your local vet or have them visit your home and get your pets tested, vaccinated and protected with a preventable. There are blood tests for Heartworm, Lyme, Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis in a 4DX 10 minute snap test. This will ensure your pets aren't positive to any degree with any of these diseases. 

Once this is known, then you can take the necessary measures to protect your pets from getting infected. There are oral, topical and injectable choices depending on the level of protection needed and financial investment you are willing to invest. 

Many times a combination of methods is best to be sure your pets are protected. Your vet will know what is suitable for your particular pet based on species, age, health and geographic location. There are also natural organic methods available with specific plantings or plant based sprays. Most are for repellent use and not for eradication of these organisms. 

For more detailed information on specific ticks, mosquitoes or the diseases they carry, I recommend the following websites:

•http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/ 
•http://www.cdc.gov/  
•http://www.mosquito.org/ 
•http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/bugs/mosquito/ 

I recommend becoming as informed and educated on these organisms and the diseases they carry and what threats they pose to you and your family, as best you can. Your pets depend on you, so please make sure they are protected. 

Next week May 18-24 is Dog Bite Prevention Week. 

   - Lorraine Fancher, LVT

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