Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Ticked Off at the Tick Situation: The Verdict Is In (for Now)

Last time I talked about the conundrum ticks might have become for us. For the longest time, we found hardly any ... until last fall when they seemed to have come out of the woodwork.


Was that a reflection of things to come?


While we're still hoping that somehow that was a freak coincidence, it would be foolish to bet on that. The big question remaining what should we do about it?

The last time we tried a tick preventive (Advantix), Cookie had a bad reaction to it. I mean shortly after application she "lost it" and we had to quickly wash it off her.

Oral preventives were on the table. But while a topical can be washed off, what is there to do if Cookie had an adverse reaction to a systemic one? When I asked there are no "antidotes" to any of those products. You'd think there would be, wouldn't you? But supposedly they are so safe that I must be the only one thinking about antidotes.

We considered vaccinating against Lyme instead, but there is a serious concern with that too.

What about benign neglect?


Benign neglect is actually a "technical term" meaning noninterference. This led to a long philosophical discussion about what would be easier to live with should things go wrong. If something bad happens, is it easier to live with it if it was a result of inaction or action? Can you screw up by not doing anything? Sure you can. Which scenario would make one feel worse?

How much difference is there between "we did this to her" and "we didn't stop this from happening?"


We've had enough history of adverse drug reactions to take things lightly.

What we want is what everybody wants. Something effective while completely safe. Is there such a thing?

When discussing this further with Cookie's vet, she recommended a different product, which is supposed to be completely safe. Yet, when I went to their website, side effects warning is the first thing they have on their home page right after the main text. The main text starts with "Safe monthly chewables ..." but only three paragraphs down it has safety information listing that it may cause abnormal neurologic signs such as tremors, decreased conscious proprioception, ataxia, decreased or absent menace, and/or seizures.

Ugh, does that sound safe to you?


I think the day when I reach for an oral tick preventive isn't coming any time soon.

What about collars? The Seresto collar has been recommended to me, and it seems many people use it. Two main active ingredients; one from the class of neonicotinoids and one is from the pyrethroid family just as permethrin which is what is in Advantix.

I remain unhappy with the options.


Benign neglect has been looking better and better.

First, do no harm.


Is there anything a step or two above benign neglect? Voo science. I mentioned the possibility of us reaching to voo science last time. And after long consideration, that's what we decided on (for now anyway).


Yes, we decided to try a flea and tick tag.


It was somewhat tough to pick one as there are a few out there. Maybe they all work, maybe none of them work, maybe there is one, the original, that works and the rest don't. But there is no scenario we can see where the tag itself could be harmful to anything other than our wallet.

So that's our choice (for now).


We installed it, and we shall see what happens. Naturally, it is possible Cookie won't run into any more ticks. It is also possible that she will keep getting them in which case we need to revisit our decision. And there is a chance that the tag actually does work. Who knows?

And maybe one just needs to believe it will work and it will. Placebo effect? I'm all for it.

"... if you had faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move."~Matthew 17:20

I think I was able to muster mustard seed-size faith.

So that's where we're at.

Cookie, of course, has had no issues with the tag. Let's hope the ticks do, though.


I will update on how things go as the spring progresses.


Related articles:
From The End Of A Lead Line To Casa Jasmine: Meet Cookie, Our New Adoptee
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 Too Closely? 
The Project That Is Cookie: Pancreatitis Up Close And Personal  
Pancreatitis: Cookie’s Blood Work   
Another Belly Upset: Pancreatitis Again Or Not?  
Happy Birthday, Cookie 
Incontinence? Cookie's Mysterious Leaks 
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
Ticked Off at the Tick Situation: What Do You Use for Tick Prevention?



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 your 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.




Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog now available in paperback and Kindle. Each chapter includes notes on when it is an emergency.

36 comments

  1. We used that tag one season- a flea and tick free season. Was it just a flea and tick free season or was it the tag? These are the actual science questions I still have but despite the (possible placebo, possible weather, possible luck, possible diet) results, I ended up not trusting the tag enough to try it a second season. (The major reason was that we needed better mosquito protection than the tag provided.) I am excited to see how it turns out for Cookie. Fingers crossed for no ticks, for any reason!

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    1. I have no illusions regarding mosquitoes ... they are bad and were bad with Advantix too. Do you mean you switched from the tag to something else which works great for mosquitoes as well? What is it?

      As for the tag, yes, one can only find out whether it doesn't work; it's hard to determine whether it does. Because the lack of ticks can mean effectiveness of the tag just as well as lack of ticks in the environment. Personally, I don't really care which, as long as there are no ticks on Cookie ;-)

      So we shall see. If we start finding ticks, then we have to revisit the strategy once again. If we don't, than I'm happy no matter what the reason behind it.

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    2. Advantix works for mosquitoes (at least the bloodsuckers we have encountered) for my dogs. The tag did seem to keep mosquitoes away but only for about six months. So when I did the the math on a new tag for each dog every six months as opposed to the year the tag was supposed to work, as well as the heat worm risk/tests, I decided to switch back to Advantix. I totally agree that whatever it is that keeps the dogs safe from pests and reaction free, is PERFECT! I just wish there were more/easier options for that...

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    3. Did not work for us. Either we got more (we got lots) or they're hungrier (the mosquitoes). We use Heartgard for HW; not taking any risks there. The status quo different with HW than with Lyme, at least at this time.

      Advantix not an option due to the adverse reaction. Also why skeptical about Seresto because same class ingredient. And the new ones ... well, they're too new for comfort. So we'll have to see. Hoping this will work against all odds stacked against it. Actually surprised at you saying the tag DID keep mosquitoes at bay for six months :-)

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    4. Mosquitoes in your area are definitely more and hungrier! With our temps here in the Pacific Northwest we have very little heart worm worry but with two MDR1 dogs, prevention by mosquito repelling and frequent hw testing is my only heart worm option. I hope maybe the tags will lessen even your voracious mosquitoes!

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  2. Will be very interested to hear your results. We are using the Seresto collar (since January), as the fleas were really bad down in Florida. Our Boston Terrier has had no adverse side effects that we have noted, and the fleas were gone within 48 hours. We haven't seen any ticks, but there may not be any here.

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    1. I will, of course, post about how this works out.

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  3. I've never heard of these tags and am interested to hear if they actually work or not.

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    1. I've been contemplating one of these for some time now; it's been a while these things had been around. Naturally, I've been skeptical but after a lot of deliberation decided to give it a try.

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    2. Can't wait to hear your follow up

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  4. Fleas and ticks are such a pain. We used Frontline forever then 2 summers ago it just stopped working. We went for one of the ingestable ones which worked great, though one of our cats did have tummy issues for a couple of days. Good luck!

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    1. Thank you Lorie, I'll see how things go before rethinking the potential of using oral.

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  5. We don't get many ticks here but I know dog owners really don't like them. Our cats have not got any but a friend's cat did!

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    1. I'm glad you don't get many. We used to be lucky too ... last fall it was quite crazy. So we'll see where things go this year.

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  6. Same boat. My little dude is 3.5 pounds so any chemicals is a risk no matter how much we are told it's safe AND he's a "blond" his skin is so pink and delicate that topical solutions are a nightmare. So what are we to do? I do hope the tag works that would be brilliant.

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    1. I hope so too. I will update on the situation over time.

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  7. I'll definitely be interested to hear how it goes with the tag. I'd love a more natural solution if there is something that actually works. Lymes and heartworm are both super scary for me and my really active, always in the woods pups.

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    1. I consider HW way scarier; we do use Heartguard for that. Lyme is theoretically treatable so possibly not as big of a threat but I don't want Cookie get that either, naturally.

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  8. We have used the Only Natural Pet Tag in conjunction with diatomaceous earth and their natural flea shampoo. We didn't get fleas or ticks until the very end of that summer. We live in the South so fleas and ticks are inevitable. For me it is trying to keep them at bay so that when we do have to use chemical product (I only use topical)it is for as few months as possible. At least that has been what I have done for the past few summers. This year Davinia is too old and in my opinion frail to deal with fleas and ticks draining her blood. We are going with a an 8 month collar sooner rather than later. I don't want to chance it and all it takes is one encounter for us to have an infestation on our hands.

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    1. Yeah, being a senior she has enough challenges to deal with. You're gonna laugh but one thing on my mind is white jumpsuit ;-)

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  9. Wow I honestly had no idea there was a flea and tick TAG! Cool to know and happy to know it now! Thank you for that!
    You know, I totally understand how you feel about NOT doing something to her that could cause harm versus DOING something to her that could cause harm.
    My son almost died from the DPT vaccine when he was first immunized. I won't go into all that but it is the same deal to not know what to do!
    I am glad you found another option and hope it works out well!
    XO

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    1. One of the problems is that there are several and some more questionable than others. So it's two decisions in one - whether or not to try the idea and then which of the tags out there to pick.

      I hope we picked well.

      I'm so sorry about your son's adverse reaction. These things, unfortunately, do sometimes happen. If there at least was a way of predicting when it is likely.

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  10. I'll be very interested to hear how this works for you. It's such a dilemma when thinking about which solution that is the "least bad" to choose...We've been using heartguard and nexguard oral, but am going to go off the nexguard and back to a topical flea/tick I think... The collar sounds like an even better option. ~ Dear Mishu

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    1. We're using Heartguard too; I wouldn't take any chances with heartworm. Tick-borne, the only one confirmed around here is Lyme and there was one case of anaplasmosis reported in the whole region so far. These are technically treatable with antibiotics. So the situation is different with HW and Lyme. We'll see whether we'll be finding ticks or not.

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  11. Ruby is very sensitive and her skin gets irritated so easily. I have always been nervous about the topical. I look forward to hearing more about the Tag.

    Ruby has never had a tick (fortunately) though my husband contracted Lyme Disease a few years ago from a tick. Fortunately, it was caught early.

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    1. It's awesome that Ruby has never had a tick. Our guys would get the odd one; not enough to take any drastic measures until after last fall when we kept finding them on Cookie back-to-back. We also test every spring and never had a positive titer yet.

      So sorry your husband got Lyme; glad he's doing well.

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  12. We tried a tag last season for a month. Dexter was tick free. Same questions you had. I do however, continue to use naturally sprays with success. He's had one tick in the last 3-4 years. The thing to remember is that ticks don't attach right away. So, come in from your outings and do a quick comb/brush. :)

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    1. Yes, that is a good point about the brushing. Cookie is out A LOT, though, so that complicates it a bit.

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  13. Mr. N has a flea allergy so we're resigned to always using something. Chemicals have their risks but him constantly itching isn't high quality of life either!

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    1. For sure, if you know you're already having a problem, taking stronger measures makes perfect sense.

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  14. After being utterly horrified and guilt ridden when Icy got a big fat tick on her neck (a fully fed tick!) I went to the oral medications. I now give my dogs an oral chew that is long lasting. Every drug has possible side effects but after what happened we opted to use the meds. I think the tag sounds like a great option for Cookie given her adverse reaction. My cousin soaks a bandana with natural flea/tick repellent for her dogs when they go on hikes. That sounded like an interesting option, it seems to work for her.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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    1. I don't get horrified easily; when we did find a tick the odd time, we removed it and some time later tested; so far we never had a positive titer. Though once we had the actual tick tested and it was positive for Lyme; didn't transfer it to Jasmine, though.

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  15. After our indoor only and very shy cat had a severe flea infestation I had to rethink flea preventatives. While I had previously treated our dogs, I didn't treat the cat. One of the dogs I have now has a severe flea allergy. We have a big problem with ticks here as well as Lyme Disease, so I treat the dogs with a tick and flea preventative.

    I hope this tag works and I'd love to understand the science behind it. (Or the magic, whatever it is.)

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    1. Science, magic ... whichever as long as it works. We'll see how things go.

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  16. Preventives here are still pretty much restricted to spot on, collars etc reading about the tag through your post was a first for me. Please do share the results when you can

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