Last December, out of the entire year, we suddenly started finding ticks on Cookie daily.
It wasn't really as cold as you'd expect for a Canadian winter, but it was cold enough. Back when I was first researching the influence of temperatures on tick activity, I learned that ticks become active when the temperature gets to be +10 degrees Celsius or higher. We had temperatures hovering on both sides of freezing but generally with +7 degrees or so being the highest only the odd day.
The Department of Health information cites tick being active when the ground temperatures are above 45 degrees Fahrenheit, which a little over +7 degrees Celsius. (July 2011) That would make the highest temperatures we were having borderline and the rest below the assumed threshold. Yet, we just kept finding them until the ground got covered with over a foot of snow.
When I asked Jasmine's vet, he said, "Our local ticks are happy to play and eat at temperatures around 4 degrees C. Last winter we saw ticks all winter long as the winter was mild. We are still getting sporadic tick reports yet. The number of ticks one can catch is related to the numbers in the environment so more baby ticks more on the dog."
Having not had a tick problem before, where did they all come from?
Of course, that is just a rhetorical question because the answer to that won't change the fact they're here. Unless it was some kind of a fluke ... one can always hope, right?
The question to which we do need to find the answer is what we're going to do about it.
At one time, when Cookie came back from the horse farm with the odd tick, we decided to put her on Advantix. That, however, didn't work out very well and Cookie had an adverse reaction to it.
After dropping the Advantix, we were deliberating what we should do regarding tick prevention. I did not like the available options, and because the ticks weren't a serious problem, we decided not to use anything.
Now we're back to deliberations.
So I'm not very happy about that. Advantix, of course, is out. There are many products out there but is any of them worthy of my Cookie? By worthy I mean effective enough and safe enough? I'm not feeling it.
After consulting with Jasmine's vet, our local vet, and a couple of others, Bravecto seems to be touted as the most effective and most safe.
That is unless you do a Google search. Now, I don't automatically subscribe to anything that's out there but reading those things doesn't add to my already low comfort level, particularly if it's a product that is supposed to be effective for such a long time.
One positive criteria about Bravecto would be the fact that it is moving to a cat product and cats tolerate medicine much less than dogs. "If the company is willing to put it on cats, it is expected to be very safe for dogs." Which is reasoning I've been aware of and does make sense in a way.
I also asked my veterinary friend who is a toxicologist, whether she has seen or heard of any serious adverse reaction to fluralaner, the active ingredient in Bravecto.
"No I haven't. You can see all the comments on my blog about this. I've never seen one and use it in my own dog."
What about the petitions to have the product removed from the market?
I was told that the evidence based on the FOI and toxicology studies is very solid. It's really safe. Unfortunately, some dogs have an underlying disease, and the owner blames the Bravecto as having caused pre-existing cancer or kidney failure. These drugs aren't excreted through the kidney or liver but through bile and feces.
She also suggested that if I was uncomfortable with the long-lasting Bravecto, I could try Nexguard instead, as it has shorter "half-life."
That all sounds good, so why am I still not comfortable with it?
Spring is coming fast, and I need to make up my mind about what we're going to do. My gut, however, is not on board with the preventive products.
I brought up my issues again with our local vet, and she said she completely understands my concern.
"Tick/Lyme control is a conundrum that vets across North America wrestle with."
I also inquired which diseases do ticks in our area actually spread. If it was Lyme disease only, I was toying with the idea of using the Lyme vaccine instead of a tick preventive.
While the vaccine too is controversial, at least it is less "foreign" to a dog body that is used to getting jabbed with all kinds of things.
But of course, things are not as simple as that.
First, do our local ticks spread Lyme disease only? One of the ticks they tested was positive for anaplasmosis. Is that significant? It's hard to tell because out disease-tracking system is far from perfect.
Second, she feels that Lyme disease is feared more than is warranted.
"Experimentally, very very few dogs ever get sick from Lyme's when exposed to the bacteria. Immunologists believe it is widely overdiagnosed. "
As for the vaccine, it doesn't seem to cause side effects and may provide some protection. The immunity likely lasts only up to a year, and it isn't clear how long the immunity really lasts. Though that could be accounted for by choosing the right time of the year, vaccinating just at the beginning of the tick season and by the time the protection runs out it technically should be cold enough for the ticks not be a problem until next spring.
Here comes the part I have the biggest problem with.
"Vaccinated dogs can still get infected, and of those that do some develop a fatal, untreatable form."
*Enter the sound of screeching breaks.
So much for that bright idea. And I felt so clever ...
Bottom line? I don't like my options, and I have no clue which is the least of the evils. It feels that picking the ticks off manually while letting fate and nature take its course is still the best plan.
The ticks Cookie might pick up may not be infected. Even if they are, they might not infect her. And if they do, her immune system might be able to deal with it. And we know what to watch out for, and Lyme disease is technically perfectly treatable.
I feel ready to reach for some voo science solution.
So that is my conundrum. I welcome your thoughts, suggestions, and experiences.
Cookie's Wellness Exam
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And So It Begins Again(?) Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie
I Didn't Know I Could Fly: Why Cookie Wears A Harness Instead Of A Collar
C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Chews For Dogs CAN Be A Choking Hazzard
Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie: The Knee Or The Foot?
Creative Solutions And An Incidental Product Review
Too Young For Pot: Cookie's Snack With A Side Of Hydrogen Peroxide
Taming Of The Wild Beast: Cookie's Transition To Civilization
Staying On Top Of The Ears: Cookie Is Not Impressed
Putting The Easy Back Into Walking
Cookie's Ears Are Still Not Happy
The Threat Of The Bulge Is Always Lurking
Today Is Cookie's Three-Months Adoptoversary
Cookie Meets The Electric Horse Fence And Her First Chiropractic Adjustment
Why Examine Your Dog's Vomit?
Why Is That Leg Still Not Happy? Cookie's Leg Keeps Getting Sore
Cookie Too Is Insured With Trupanion
Does Being Insured Mean Being Covered? Our First Claim With Trupanion
Is Cookie's Leg Finally Getting Better?
Is Cookie Going To Be Another Medical Challenge Or Are We Looking To Closely?
The Project That Is Cookie: Pancreatitis Up Close And Personal
Pancreatitis: Cookie’s Blood Work
Another Belly Upset: Pancreatitis Again Or Not?
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Who's Training Whom? Stick And Treat
Don't Just Stand There, Do Something? Cookie's Mysterious Bumps
Cookie's Mysterious Bumps Update
One Vomit, No Vomit
Happy One-Year Adoptoversary, Cookie!
Cookie's Leaks Are Back: Garden Variety Incontinence Or Not?
Cookie's Leaks Update
Don't Panic, Don't Panic: Know What Your Job Is
The Continuing Saga Of Cookie's Leeks: Trying Chiropractic Approach
Cookie's Minor Eye Irritation
Regular Wellness Exam: Cookie's ALT Was Elevated
Cookie's Plantar Paw Pad Injury
How Far To Take It When The Dog Isn't Sick?
Cookie Has Tapeworm Infection
Cookie's Elevated ALT: The Ultrasound and Cytology
Cookie's ALT Update
The Importance of Observation: Cookie's Chiropractic Adjustment
Sometimes You Don't Even Know What You're Looking at: Cookie's Scary "We Have No Idea What that Was"
Living with an Incontinent Dog
Summer Dangers: Cookie Gets Stung by a Bald-faced Hornet
To Breathe or Not To Breathe: Cookie's Hind Legs Transiently Fail to Work (Again)
Figuring out What Might Be Going on with Cookie's Legs: The Process
Figuring out What Might Be Going on with Cookie's Legs: The Diagnosis
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Trazodone
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Other Medications
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Laser, Hydrotherapy and Chiropractic
Cookie's Recovery from Iliopsoas Injury: ToeGrips
It Never Rains ... Cookie's New Injury
Mixed Emotions: When What You Should Do Might Not Be What You Should Do for Your Dog
Cookie's New Injury Update
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury: The Symptoms
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury: Battling the Zoomies
Cookie's Muscle Injuries: What Else Is Going On?
Theory and Actual Decisions for an Actual Dog Aren't the Same Thing: Cookie's Knee Injury
Does Your Vet Listen to You? Cookie's Post-Sedation Complications
Would I Ever Treat a Symptom Directly?
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Treatment for Cookie's Bad Knee(s)
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) for Cookie's Bad Cruciate Update
Injury or Surgery Recovery: Mishaps versus Setbacks
See Something, Do Something: Cookie's Lumpectomy
Cookie's Lumpectomy Update
Using Pressure Pads to Evaluate Lameness in Dogs: My Observations
Cookie's Musculoskeletal Challenges: What Supplements Am I Using?
Cookie's Musculoskeletal Challenges: Restricted Activity and Weight Management
Cookie's PRP Treatment for Partial Cruciate Tear: Update
Has Your Dog's Physical Therapist Taken Dog Training Classes?
Cookie's PRP Treatment for Partial Cruciate Tear Update and Considering the Future
Cookie's PRP Treatment for Partial Cruciate (CCL/ACL) Tear and Leg Circumference
Cookie's Wellness Exam
Do you have a story to share?
Your story can help others, maybe even save a life!
What were the first signs you noticed? How did you dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?
Email me, I'll be happy to hear from you.