Save the Lizards!

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Yesterday I wrote about Lyme Disease and how to protect yourself and your canine companions since it has been discovered that the ticks in my hometown of Yucaipa, California are carrying the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease.  The CDC believes that 300,000 cases of Lyme disease occur a year nationwide.  It is hard to pinpoint exact numbers since they believe many of these cases are undiagnosed or even misdiagnosed.  However, they are clear that in the Northeast and Northern Midwest states that up to 30% of the deer ticks carry the bacteria that is known to cause Lyme disease.  Also there is a 96% occurrence rate of Lyme in 13 states and California is not among those states because we have a natural vaccine program occurring.  Bring in the lizards!

It turns out that nymphal ticks favorite host is our common western fence lizard, which has a protein in its blood that kills the bacterium responsible for Lyme.  This results in few adults ticks growing up to be Lyme carriers.  A limited study also concluded that reducing the population of lizards appeared to reduce tick populations because the ticks did not take to other hosts as readily.  However, scientists have warned that messing with mother nature’s population of lizards could results in the ticks adapting to a new host and thriving without eliminating Lyme.

So in theory you now have two ways to prevent ticks on your dog.  You can either buy a Preventic collar or you can duct tape lizards all over them.  I myself prefer the Preventic collar but the options are available. Most importantly let’s celebrate our western fence lizards and save the lizards!

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For the Love of Ticks

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Hey look this is really cool a tick is crawling on your dog, and another and another!  When you work in the veterinary field as I did for 6 years you find that everyone has something that fascinates them.  For one of my coworkers it was abscesses the messier the better and for me it was ticks.  I loved them so much that I was known as the tick plucker anytime a dog came in I was assigned the task of tick removal.  When I left the veterinary industry my souvenir was the fattest tick I ever plucked preserved in formaldehyde (pictured above).  I love my tick and he has a permanent place on my bookshelf.

As much as I enjoy watching and plucking ticks I do not like the fact that they carry Lyme Disease and pose a health threat to animals and humans alike.  On January 29th 4 miles north of my hometown of Yucaipa, California two adult western black legged- ticks were collected that carried the bacteria for Lyme Disease.  This is the first finding since 1991 and that is very scary for an avid hiker like myself that not only hikes but hikes with my dog on single track trails in high brush.

The Mosquito and Vector Control Division suggest the following to protect humans from ticks:

— Avoid areas where ticks are known to occur.

— Stay in the middle of trails and avoid grassy areas, contact with logs, tree trunks and fallen branches or tree limbs in forests.

— Use a repellent registered for use against ticks. Repellents with DEET are effective and can be applied to the skin. Repellents with permethrin should be applied only to clothing.Be especially careful when applying to children.

— Thoroughly check yourself and others for ticks during, immediately after, and up to three days after activities in tick-infested areas.

— Shower immediately after engaging in outdoor activities where ticks live.

— Keep grass along trails, buildings and camping areas mown.

� If you find a tick attached to your skin:

— Grasp tick with tweezers or a tissue, (never with your bare hands) as close to your skin as possible.

— Firmly pull the tick from the skin. Do not jerk, twist or unscrew the tick.

— Do not attempt to remove by burning with a cigarette or by applying Vaseline, kerosene, etc.

— Wash your hands and the bite site with soap and water after removing the tick. Apply an antiseptic to the bite area.

— Save the tick for identification. Contact the Mosquito and Vector Control Program, which will determine whether the tick is a species capable of transmitting Lyme disease.

— Consult your physician if the tick cannot be removed or part of it is left in the skin, or if you develop a rash or flu-like symptoms within 30 days of a tick bite.

But what about your dog?  Can dogs get Lyme Disease? Yes dogs can and young dogs appear to be more susceptible to the disease than older dogs according to petMD. So protecting your dog is essential and below are a few tips to gets your started:

-When hiking with your dog keep them on a leash so they are not bounding through the brush where ticks are prevalent.

– When you get home thoroughly groom your dog and remove any ticks that you find.

-Use a preventative.  I highly recommend the Preventic Collars which can be purchased on Amazon.  I have found over the years that Frontline stops fleas but seems to do nothing for the ticks.  You can use the Preventic collars in combination with your other flea preventative.

-A Lyme Disease vaccine is available for dogs but it is generally not recommended for the following reasons according to UC Davis:

Canine Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme) Vaccine

The incidence of Lyme disease in California is currently considered extremely low. Furthermore, use of the vaccine even in endemic areas (such as the east coast of the US) has been controversial because of anecdotal reports of vaccine-associated adverse events. Most infected dogs show no clinical signs, and the majority of dogs contracting Lyme disease respond to treatment with antimicrobials. Furthermore, prophylaxis may be effectively achieved by preventing exposure to the tick vector. If travel to endemic areas (ie the east coast) is anticipated, vaccination with the Lyme subunit or OspC/OspA-containing bivalent bacterin vaccine could be considered, followed by boosters at intervals in line with risk of exposure. The UC Davis VMTH does not stock the Lyme vaccine or recommend it for use in dogs residing solely in northern California.

Yes I love the ticks but not on me and not on my dog I just like to admire the little creatures.  But most people do not share this love.  We can all agree on one thing however and that is keeping you and your dog’s tick free should be your top priority.

Favorite Video Friday – Doggie Faces

No Dog About It Blog

I have a fascination with dog faces. I love their cute little noses and long little snouts. I love their soft brown (or blue) eyes and the way they look at you with adoration or curiosity or confusion. I love how some of them have bangs or long, flowing strands of fur that surround their face. I love that some have cute little tufts of hair on their noses. I love their coloring and whorls and speckles. But, mostly I just love them because they are sweet and adorable and overwhelmingly cute.

This week’s video is a deep dive into doggie faces. If you love them as much as I do then this video is for you.  So many dogs with so many different facial shapes, coloring and looks, and every one of them cute as a button.

Happy Friday everyone!

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Trail Tales

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Our local trails are gorgeous right now.  So many wildflowers.  Yukon and I enjoy the Redlands Conservancy trails, Crafton Hills Open Space conservancy trails, Wildlands Conservancy trails, and Wildwood State Park.

All of these trails are shared by hikers, runners, cyclists, horseback riders and dogs.  Please remember to keep your dog on a leash at all times on these trails.  It is not only for the safety of your dog but for the safety of others especially those on horseback.  Yukon and I encountered a young horse on trail recently that had never seen a dog.  It was wonderful they both stopped and studied each other.  Then I had him sit and the horses proceeded past.  Also, dogs that are on leash often react differently then they would if they were off leash so when an off leash dog approaches an on leash dog they may become reactive because they are tethered to a leash and haven no control over the situation.  I advise all my clients to carry spray shield, a citronella based spray to protect you and your dog on trail.  The other dangers of off leash dogs include rattlesnakes in the brush. They are awake and on trail.   Also, remember water for you and your dog.  I just discovered that Zukes makes a dog treat for dogs on trail, I’m going to order them and I’ll let you know what Yukon thinks of them in a future newsletter.

Enjoy those wildflowers and time in nature with your dog.

Beware of Bubbles

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Do your kids enjoy bubble machines?  Do your dogs like to be in the mix?  So did Annie (pictured above) and that love of bubbles resulted in a visit and stay at the emergency room along with a trip to the veterinary opthamologist.  Annie was diagnosed angioedema of the face and eyelids, which was caused by an allergic reaction to the bubble making fluid, and she also had severe corneal ulceration in both eyes. After Annie got done playing with the bubbles she started rubbing her eyes and then her eyelids got swollen and turned under from the swelling, and that with all the rubbing caused the ulceration. So BEWARE of bubbles and dogs and keep them separate.

Dogscaping

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Tear out the grass and put in drought tolerant plants to use less water from our precious planet.  That was the easy part!  The hard part was finding plants and ground coverage that were safe for our dogs.

First step was to find a ground cover. BEWARE of mulch that is treated with weed killers, it is toxic to your dogs. Our dog Shiloh developed Lupus from weed killer so we don’t use it anywhere in our  backyard including weed and feed for grass.  There was only one kind of mulch we found that was not toxic and that was all natural tree bark from Lowe’s. However, if your dog likes to eat mulch than mulch may not be the right ground coverage for you.  We also covered part of the area with rocks.  This is great as long as your dog does not eat rocks.  My husband has a dog growing up that had to have some pretty extensive dental work done because of his love of rocks.

Next we had to find some drought tolerant and dog safe plants.  We spent several hours at Lowe’s ruling plants out based on toxicity. Many plants are listed as toxic to dogs but you must read further to not only know how they affect dogs but also what part of the plant is toxic.  You must also know your dog.  For example, tulip bulbs are toxic so we planted them in pots because our dogs don’t eat plants out of pots.  We avoided Sago palms and Birds of Paradise.  Our tree is a Sweet Broom.  We also found Blue Arrow Rush which is a pretty ornamental grass that is non toxic to dogs.  We also put in flowers but were very cautious to avoid flowers such as Sweet Peas which can cause seizure and death in dogs.  We did plant Geraniums which are toxic but again we placed them in pots.  Our dogs have also never eaten our plants so part of the process is deciding what is right for your yard based on your particular dog or if you are considering getting another dog in the future. When I come out to clients’ homes for puppy training the first thing I do is a walk through of the property pointing out potential dangers including plants.  I also provide my clients with a list of toxic plants.

So much to consider and where do you start if you are considering dogscaping? Start by printing out the ASPCA toxic and non-toxic plant listand then have fun, be creative and be dog safe.

Luckily my garden is in what the former owners used as a dog run.  It is full sun so we would never have imagined placing a dog back there but it makes for a great garden that is safe from the dogs.  Looking forward to our herbs, asparagus, tomatoes, and peppers this Spring and our Mammoth Sunflowers this Summer.  Happy planting the dog safe way!