Vet Talks: Summertime, Lyme Disease and Ticks

Summer is just around the corner. The weather is getting warm (YAY!), which means it’s also flea and tick season (BOO!) Unfortunately when it comes to tick bites and Lyme disease, scientists are expecting this summer to be particularly bad for humans and dogs. To help you prepare and have the best summer, we sat down with my vet, Dr. Courtney Leonard (aka lady-crush aka my #1 fan, aka my savior) to talk about what you should know about flea and tick prevention for dogs and Lyme disease.

Please note: Dr. Leonard recommends specific medication during her interview. It is important to talk to your vet before making any changes to your pup’s care and before you change or add any new medications to their routine!

Interview with Dr. Leonard!

Emoji: HI! Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to answer these questions and help my friends stay healthy! 

Dr. Leonard: Thanks, Emoji! Happy to help!

Emoji: Should pet owners only be worried about ticks in wooded areas? When should pet owners be worried about ticks?

Dr. Leonard: Ticks are very hardy creatures, and if your dog goes to the park then it would be recommended to give a flea/tick preventative. We have seen many patients that did not use prevention get a tick-borne disease as they did not think that living in the city their dog would be at risk.

Emoji: Do all ticks have Lyme disease? What should they look out for?

Dr. Leonard: Not all ticks have Lyme disease, there are also other tick-borne diseases that can cause issues for dogs. It would be difficult to know what tick is transmitting which disease so if your dog has tick exposure then the best thing to do is have your dog tested 6 weeks post exposure or sooner if they seem to be feeling unwell.  Larger ticks like the “brown dog” tick tend to be more benign while smaller ticks like the “deer” tick carry more infectious diseases.

Emoji: What tips do you have to prevent ticks and Lyme disease?

Dr. Leonard: I recommend using flea/tick preventative medications. There are many available, and my preferences are the chewables like Nexguard/Bravecto. Topical products that are effective are Vectra which is an oil or a Seresto collar which is waterproof for more active dogs.  Revolution is a heartworm preventative that also protects against fleas and the brown dog tick only but can be a nice option for primarily city dogs that want some protection.
(Please speak to your pet’s vet team before stopping or changing his or her medication) 
Emoji: How should pet owners look for ticks on their pets? 

Dr. Leonard: A good tick check after being outside is important, keeping the fur shorter in the summer is also helpful to be able to visualize them more easily.

Emoji: GAH! Lady found a tick! What should pet owners do if they find a tick?

Don’t panic! REI and other stores sell tick removal devices that are very effective or you can bring your pet to your local veterinarian for removal.  We generally test dogs 6 weeks post exposure or sooner if they are acting unwell.

Emoji: What (Lyme disease) symptoms should pet owners look out for?

Dr. Leonard: Tick-borne disease generally causes dogs to feel unwell. They can have shifting lamenesses, fevers, inappetence and other bloodwork abnormalities that can be concerning.  Annual testing for tick-borne disease can be helpful to catch things before they become a problem.

Emoji: Wow! Thanks for the information Dr. Leonard! I’ll see you at my next check up! 

Dr. Leonard: We’ll be sure to have the snackies ready for you!

About Dr. Courtney Leonard: 
Inky is sitting with Dr. Leonard talking about tick prevention in dogs
Inky stole my seat during the interview

Dr. Leonard is my savor! She was the vet who handled my rescue intake after I made it to my foster home and has been my vet ever since! I love visiting Dr. Leonard at Center for Veterinary Care in NYC because she gives the best cuddles (don’t tell Lady).

She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and English from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA. She also holds a Master’s degree in Biology from Adelphi University where she did her research work on autoimmune glomerulonephritis.  Dr.Leonard completed a year of clinical training at North Carolina State University School of Veterinary Medicine and graduated from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine cum laude. She then went on to complete an intensive small animal rotating internship in medicine and surgery at the ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City.  She is a USDA accredited veterinarian and a member of the New York State Veterinary Medical Society.



 Helpful Information about Fleas, Tick, and Lyme Disease:

– CDC offers a detailed page about tick bites and tickborne illness for humans and a great  Lyme Disease guide because your health is just as important… I mean… we can’t go on solo adventure trips! We need you!

– If you still have questions or want more information, check out PetMD’s Dog Ticks and Fleas FAQ section and don’t hesitate to call your vet! If they’re anything like Dr. Leonard and the CVC team, they will be more than happy to answer your questions.

– Center for Veterinary Care (CVC) offers a Pet Library with information from the latest articles and updates from the Veterinary Information Network (VIN). The Lyme Disease section includes additional information about the bacteria behind Lyme disease and the difference between human Lyme disease and canine Lyme disease.

– Interested in a natural way to repell ticks and fleas? Check out our Earth Day blog and find out how you can use essential oils to keep the ticks and fleas away! (We don’t recommend replacing your pet’s flea & tick prevention medication without talking to your vet!)

Emoji helps Dr Leonard at Center for Veterinary Care go over her talking points about tick prevention in dogs and Lyme disease
“Those answers were perfect! Now hit submit!” – Emoji
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