dog with ball in snow

Is it safe to stop flea and tick prevention in the winter?

Old man winter is upon us, which usually means snow and freezing cold weather.  Unfortunately, the climate is ever changing, bringing periods of warmer weather that is unexpected for Erie winters! For ticks, this is the perfect time to feed on our furry four-legged pets and why you need to think about flea and tick prevention, even during the winter months.  

Erie Ticks

Erie has a large population of blacklegged (or deer) ticks that transmit Lyme Disease to both animals and people, making tick prevention especially important in our area. Lyme disease is caused by a bacterial agent called Borrelia burgdorferi. Once the tick begins to feed, it takes 24-48 hours to transmit Lyme disease to your pet.  In 2019, 1 out of 12 dogs tested positive for Lyme disease in Erie County!!!

Most dogs will develop subclinical infections, however acute disease may present with fever, shifting leg lameness, swollen joints, enlarged lymph nodes, lethargy and anorexia. Clinical improvement is usually seen following initiation of antibiotic therapy.  Although chronic disease is uncommon, it can cause progressive joint changes. Rarely, dogs can present with acute kidney insufficiency which carries a very guarded prognosis for recovery. 

Tick Prevention & Lyme Disease

Testing for Lyme disease is available, however does have its limits. If you see a tick on your dog, call your veterinarian immediately for instructions on how to remove it.  Your veterinarian will then consult you on possible prophylactic treatment, vaccination and prevention. Although the Lyme vaccine has been shown to be efficacious, it by no means takes the place of prevention! It is now recommended that all pets be maintained on year-round highly effective flea and tick prevention. It’s better to be prepared and have your pet protected than to have to battle lyme disease.

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