What you need to know about Lyme Disease

What you need to know about Lyme Disease

Vaccinating Your Dog Against Lyme Disease (1)

 

If you live in Ohio, Lyme Disease has been a shadow looming over us for a long time. It used to be “just a New England thing”, but now it has crept into our neck of the woods in its never ending march westward. We’ve known it was coming for months – years even. Now it is finally here.

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Our job now becomes one of estimating the threat and providing an appropriate response to keep our dogs safe and protected from this disease. This is part of what we as veterinarians do all the time. Due to the costs, and a desire to keep the number of vaccinations as low as possible in every patient, for many months, the opinion of AVC was one of preferring faithful application of tick preventatives over Lyme vaccination. Recently our official stance has changed regarding the Lyme vaccine. Although it is technically not considered a core vaccine, due to finding not one, but two Lyme positive dogs in the past month – we feel that this vaccine needs to be made available to our clients. It is because of these positive dogs that we have starting carrying a small amount of Merial Lyme Vaccine. We are now making the option available to all our dog parents so that they can keep their dogs protected.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • What is Lyme Disease? 

Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a bacteria that is transmitted via tick bites. It can affect humans, dogs, horses and cattle. Cats typically do not contract Lyme Disease.

  • How do I know if my dog has Lyme Disease? 

The best, most accurate way to detect Lyme Disease is a blood test. At AVC, we use a test called a 4DX that tests for Heartworm Disease, Lyme Disease, Anaplasmosis, and Ehrlichia. The test uses a small sample of blood, and gives us results in about 10 minutes. We perform this test on our patients yearly to make sure they haven’t been exposed to these diseases over the course of the previous year. Other symptoms of Lyme Disease that you may notice at home are joint pain/lameness, joint swelling, fever, loss of appetite, and reduced energy.

  • Is Lyme Disease fatal?

Not usually. However, in a small number of infected dogs, the bacteria can damage the kidneys which can lead to glomerulonephritis, which is nearly always fatal.

  • Is Lyme Disease treatable?

The good news is yes, Lyme Disease is treatable with an extended trial of antibiotics. Not all dogs who test positive for Lyme will develop clinical signs, however, AVC always recommends treating with antibiotics to help prevent the onset of clinical signs, and especially to protect the kidneys from damage. Although antibiotics should always be used judiciously the doctors feel that the potential protection against acute kidney disease and uncomfortable Lyme symptoms warrants the used of extended antibiotics for any Lyme positive dog. Even though Lyme Disease is technically a treatable infection, the best option is always to prevent it in the first place!

  • Is Lyme Disease preventable? 

Thankfully, yes! Lyme Disease can be prevented by vaccination against the bacteria that the ticks carry, by staying consistent with your dog’s tick prevention medications, or you can be extra safe and do both! (Which is what we recommend, especially for dogs with a high exposure risk)

  • Is it effective? 

Yes! The Merial Recombitek Lyme Vaccine was able to protect 100% of the dogs in their study after a severe natural exposure.

  • Is the vaccine safe? What about vaccine reactions?

The specific type of Lyme Vaccine that we chose to carry at AVC is the safest, least reactive vaccine that you can purchase. The Recombitek Lyme is a type of vaccine that does not contain the entire bacteria, but only parts of the proteins that allow it to create immunity, but doesn’t include the extra “junk” proteins that are not needed for immunity, and often those proteins are what cause allergic reactions. Because this is a much cleaner vaccine, it causes far fewer allergic reactions. It is also a non-adjuvanted vaccine, which is by far the safest type of vaccine on the market.

  • How do I get my dog vaccinated? 

For any dog who has never received the Lyme Vaccine, or hasn’t received one within the last 5 years, they will require one temporary vaccine, and a booster 2-3 weeks later. If your dog has had their yearly physical within the last 12 months, and is otherwise up to date on all their regular vaccinations, our veterinary technicians can administer the Lyme vaccine, and they will not require another physical exam.

  • Is it expensive? 

Sadly, the Lyme Vaccine is a bit higher than your dog’s regular vaccines. We won’t lie, the price has been factored into our decision to carry the vaccination in the past, but we feel that at this time we can no longer rely solely on flea and tick preventatives to protect our dogs, and we feel the vaccine is an important part of our defense against this disease. We have tried to price the Lyme Vaccine at the lowest price point we can, and currently it costs $35 per vaccine.

  • Should I vaccinate my dog?

It depends on you and your dog. Do you spend a lot of time outdoors? Do you walk or hike with your dog? Do you live near areas with a high density of trees, or near any fields? Does your dog go outside to potty? If you answered yes, you might want to consider getting your dog protected. Ticks are literally everywhere, and this year we have seen an abnormally high amount of ticks. It is truly a personal decision whether you think your dog should be vaccinated or not, however, we can say that we highly recommend it.

  • Ok, sign me up! How can I schedule my pup? 

This part is simple! You can give us a call at 330-833-3127, or schedule an appointment online. We look forward to seeing you!

 

Top 3 Tick-Removing Myths – Busted!

Tis’ the season for ticks, and not the blue superhero version. These parasites are more closely related to spiders than to fleas and other insects, and are technically arachnids. If that doesn’t send a chill down your spine, then you probably don’t have any latent spider phobias. 🙂

Even if you don’t, and for those of us who do, ticks should be avoided on us and our pets at all costs! Not only is the mere thought of a blood-sucking parasite enough to give anyone a case of the “willies”, but ticks carry diseases, some of which can even be deadly.

What happens when you come home from a day of outdoor fun with your dog and see that one or more of the dirty scoundrels has attached itself to your poor pup? Scouring the internet and asking friends can produce some interesting methods for removing ticks “the right way”. We are here to set the story straight, but first let’s go over some sure fire tick removing advice.. that maybe you should avoid.

Myth #1: Burn it off. Kill it with fire!

We have heard this old tale a million times! More than one source may tell you that if you apply something very hot to the body of the tick, such as a lit match or one that’s just been blown out, the tick will back out of the skin to flee, and you can easily remove it at that point. The downside of this method is the safety factor. Tick bodies can be extremely tiny, and you risk burning your dog which will make him less inclined to sit still the next time when you approach him with a book of matches or a lighter – as well he shouldn’t!

Myth #2: Just wiggle it out! 

Wiggling when removing a tick that’s embedded can lead to pieces of it’s mouth parts breaking off and staying stuck in the skin. The best method is an upward, straight pull with steady pressure.

Myth #3: Drown it in Vaseline! 

This is another one we hear all the time! While technically it is true that you can suffocate a tick by surrounding them in a viscous fluid, ticks breathe super slow, and might only take three breaths in an hour! By the time they suffocate, they have been embedded long enough to transmit diseases and cause serious harm.

The final verdict is that if you see a tick on your pet, the best method for removal is to grab a pair a tweezers, grasp the stinker as close to the skin as you can with firm pressure, and pull it out slowly upwards with steady, even pressure. You can also use a tool such as a Tick Twister.

This neat little device allows you to grasp the tick very close to the skin, and then twist it up and out of your precious pet. You can dispose of the tick in whatever method you prefer. Flushing them down the toilet works, as does the simple squish and toss. If you want to dispose of them in a really fun way like the vet techs do, you can inject them with peroxide. They explode! (No really, they explode. If you have a strong stomach, you can check it out on Youtube!)

How do I choose a trustworthy groomer?

“Fluffy” desperately needs a haircut, but she’s a part of the family and you’re not going to trust her to just anyone. How do you know if they will do a good job? How will they treat your dog while he or she is in their care? No one wants their pet to have a bad hair day for the next four to six weeks until it grows out again, and with stories in the news about dogs suffering from heat stroke and even dying at the groomers, it can be enough to make you want to take up grooming yourself just to avoid taking your precious pup anywhere at all!

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Don’t let bad hair cuts happen to your pooch!

There are ways to tell if a groomer is the real deal, so to speak. In today’s blog post, we will share our best tips for determining who is a trustworthy groomer.

Tip #1: Ask your friends for referrals!

Word of mouth is usually a pretty reliable source for recommendations. If your friends or family have had a great experience with a particular groomer, you can be willing to bet that they are worth talking about. Knowing that someone you are acquainted with trusts them will go a long way towards helping you trust them too!

Tip #2: Look for transparency. 

A groomer that has nothing to hide will be completely open to you. Ask to see the grooming salon if it isn’t readily visible. Most groomers will gladly give you a quick tour of their facilities to show you the area your dog will be while they are there. Take your time and get a good look at the area. It doesn’t have to be perfectly tidy, as grooming is not the most cleanly undertaking. There might be some dog hair on the floor, but that is one thing that is OK to overlook. Look to see if their kennels are spacious enough for your pet, and if they appear to keep their instruments well cared for. Also look to see if they have cleaning tools such as disinfecting spray handy. Take a deep breath and take in any odors. The grooming salon shouldn’t have too bad of a smell, but can obviously have a wet dog smell from time to time. What is the general feeling you get while you are there?

Tip #3: Watch the dogs coming and going. 

Are the dogs walking out from their grooming with bright faces and wagging tails? Or do they look distraught, tired, fearful, or uneasy? Grooming can be stressful for any dog no matter how plucky, however, it should not leave them fearful or uneasy. Dogs should be happy and excited to see their owners. Keep an eye on dogs going into the groomer as well, do they walk in willingly or do they get to the door and slam on the “brakes?” This can give you an indication on whether or not they have a good experience while they are there.

Tip #4: Ask for references. 

A good pet stylist will have happy customers and raving fans. Ask your potential groomer if they have any references you could speak to briefly. They should be able to supply at least one to two people for you to speak to. If they have no one that will give them a positive reference, beware.

Tip #5: Go with your gut. 

What is your intuition telling you? Do you get a good feeling when you speak to the groomer, or look at their facilities? Don’t underestimate your initial gut reaction, it is usually right!

 

If you are in the market for a new groomer, Aquadale now has grooming appointments available in our newly renovated grooming salon. Our groomers, Amanda and Jessica will help your dog look their best with gentle handling in a low-stress environment. With our new loyalty program you will receive your 6th groom FREE, and every 6th groom after will be 50% off. No membership cards to keep track of and take up space in your wallet, or if you are like us – to lose. We automatically track all your visits, and you simply get a half off grooming appointment after your dog comes in five times. Schedule a grooming appointment with us online.

Top 3 Flea & Tick Myths – Exposed!

top 3 flea and tick myths

 

Fleas and Ticks. Four-letter words for pet owners. No one wants to think about their fur babies being attacked by parasites, let alone blood-sucking parasites! You may not know the whole truth when it comes to these parasites, so we took it upon ourselves to compile the most common myths about fleas and ticks.

Myth # 1: Fleas and Ticks do not affect healthy pets. 

Truth: External parasites are not picky when it comes to a blood meal. They can attack any pet, healthy or not!

Myth #2: Fleas and Ticks are not a threat during the winter. 

Truth: While it is true that fleas and ticks that are outdoors will die off once we get a good frost, if there are any that have managed to make it into your warm home, they can survive the entire winter! The veterinarians at Aquadale recommend keeping your pet on a flea preventative throughout the summer months, and only discontinuing prevention in the winter if you have not had any issues with fleas or ticks.

Myth #3: Indoor pets do not need protection.

Truth: While it is true that pets who spend a lot of time outdoors are at a higher risk of picking up parasites, indoor pets are not immune! Fleas and ticks can hitch a ride inside on our clothing, and fleas can even jump through open windows! All pets should be on a monthly parasite preventative throughout the summer to keep them happy and bug-free.

What can I do?

We are approaching the spring season, which is historically when we recommend starting flea and tick prevention. We recommend starting prevention in the spring due to it being a favorite time for ticks to come out and begin feeding. Climate can vary, and parasites have been showing up earlier and earlier when we have mild winters. Aquadale recommends a prescription flea and tick prevention such as Nexgard to keep your pet completely free of parasites. To help our friends get their pets protected, we are having a blowout sale on Nexgard through the end of March, 2017. Nexgard is an easy once a month chew that dogs love, and will keep all those blood-suckers away from your furbaby. We are taking $5 off each dose of Nexgard Chews, and we also will give you two (2) doses FREE when you buy 10! Stop in today to stock up!

Sit. Stay. Smile! – Tips for Taking Great Pet Photos – Massillon, Ohio Vet Clinic & Grooming

Today’s post will be all about taking photos of your furry family members. In honor of our Canine Celebrity Contest which includes a mini session from Tiffany Kelly Photography for your dog, we will go over a few tricks of the trade to help you take better images of your own pets! Dogs, cats and other pets all tend to be extremely photogenic, however, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure you get a great image you will love.

Tip #1: Have Patience. 

Photographing dogs or cats is one of the most challenging, patience-testing things you can ever attempt. But it always seems that right when you are at your limit and about to give up, that magic moment happens and you can get some really special photographs. Be mindful of your energy as your photographing your dog or cat. The more loud and excited you are, the more excited or nervous they will be. Above all, patience is key. Never get frustrated! If something isn’t working out, try a new approach, or leave it for another day and come back to try again.

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Charlie is an older dog who really isn’t all that interested in having his photo taken. By being patient however I was able to get this cute head tilt.

 

Tip #2: Get on Their Level.

We typically view our pets from a level of about five to six feet off the ground. We are used to seeing them from this perspective and it feels comfortable to us. However, when you’re taking a cute photo of your dog or cat, try getting down on their level so your camera or phone is even with their eyes. This effectively puts you “in their world”, and offers such a unique and interesting twist on pet photos! Just utilizing this one trick will instantly make your pet photos look much better. Keep in mind that since each dog is different, this might mean laying on the ground to get your camera low enough for a very small dog. Alternatively, if you have a small breed dog you can place them up on furniture to get a better angle. Just be aware of your pet’s safety in case they would slip off or jump. If your dog instantly tries to walk up to you when you bend down (and let’s face it – what dog doesn’t?) then the simple solution is to tether them to a tree, stake, railing, or whatever secure area you can tie them to. You can then back up a few feet without your dog crowding you, grab their attention, and snap some amazing pics!

This kitten is up on a table to allow the photographer to take photos at eye level.

This kitten is up on a table to allow the photographer to take photos at eye level.

Tip #3: Find Good Light.

If shooting inside, try to take pics of your pets near a window or open door (just make sure they don’t run out that door). The brighter, natural light will make for gorgeous photos of your buddy. If outside, try to avoid shooting in direct sunlight unless it’s early in the morning, or later in the evening when the sun is lower in the sky. If it’s midday sun, try to find an area of shade to shoot in so your dog isn’t squinting in the bright light. The hour before the sun sets is what photographers refer to as the “golden hour”, and the setting sun makes the light take on a rich, soft, golden character. This is excellent light to shoot in if you can.

Cody was shot in golden hour, right before the sun dipped under the horizon.

Cody was shot in golden hour, right before the sun dipped under the horizon.

Tip #4: Use Novel Noises

Try to avoid calling your pet’s name over and over – they will just start (or keep) ignoring you. Instead, keep your voice and energy low, and use a unique noisemaker to get their attention. A squeaky toy or a duck call once or twice when your ready to shoot works great – or even your own built in noisemaker – your mouth! Pant, yip, or mewl like a kitten to elicit a response out of your pet. Remember not to overdo it though, just like their name, if you keep squeaking a toy over and over it will no longer be a novel sound and you will lose their interest.

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Vinnie loved little squeaky sounds, and would look right at the camera every time.

We hope these tips will help and inspire you to go out and take excellent photos of your furry friends. If you used the tips here, post the results on our Facebook page and let us know you used them!

Beyond Basic Obedience – Beginning Leash Training Part One – New Puppy Series

So your puppy can sit, down and come when called. What next? It might be a good idea to teach your dog how to properly walk on a leash next. Conditioning them from the start and performing a little bit of basic leash training will give you years of hassle-free walks and control of your dog. Let’s learn a bit about leash training and why retractable leashes aren’t such a great tool to use.

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New Puppy Series – Teaching Stay

Teaching “Stay”

Training your dog how to stay is fairly simple, but can be one of the more frustrating behaviors to train if your dog is overly excitable and has trouble staying put for more than a fraction of a second. The key to teaching stay is for your dog to learn that by staying in the position you put them in, they continue to receive rewards. The stay behavior becomes rewarding, which means your dog will do it more often and with more reliability.

Step 1. Ask your dog for a sit or down and reward for the correct behavior.

Step 2. Say the command “stay” (or “wait” if you prefer) and wait a couple of seconds before giving your verbal marker such as “Yes! Good Stay!” and giving your dog a food reward.

Step 3. Give your dog a release word such as “Ease” or “Ok!” and back up a few paces to invite them to follow you.

Step 4. Ask your dog for a sit or down and repeat the previous steps, adding a few seconds each time that you ask your dog to stay before they get the reward. Work up to thirty seconds, then one minute, two minutes, etc.

Step 5. Practice this often, and change locations to gradually more distracting environments so your dog learns to perform this behavior everywhere.

Step 6. Once your dog can reliably stay put with you right next to them, begin adding distance. Even if your dog can reliably stay for five minutes you will need to back up a few steps while you work on distance. Place your dog in a sit or down, give them the stay command and back up a couple steps. Immediately walk back and reward your dog.

Step 7. Continue working with increasing the distance you can walk from your dog while they remain in the stay position.

*If at any point during distance training your dog stands up to follow you just give them a non-rewarding marker such as “Oops! or “Nope.” and go back a few steps in the training.

Step 8. Once you’ve worked with duration and distance it is time to add them together. As per usual when moving into a new area in training it is usually a good idea to regress back a few steps to avoid frustration. Place your dog in a sit or down, tell them to stay and take a few steps back. Wait five seconds or so, and then walk back to your dog and reward them.

Release Words

In teaching your dog stay we talked about release words. This is a word that lets your dog know it is ok to break the stay and move. It is an important aspect of training stay that many people overlook. Without a release word, the dog will not know when it is ok to get up and move around, and may decide to get up on their own especially when you are working on longer stays. When the dog knows that they must wait for the release marker before they get up it can make training the stay much easier.