One of my great joys is to go mountain biking in the woods around my house with Dashiell, my 3-year old Doberman. He seems to live for this. As I get ready to go, he starts to whine and pace excitedly, picking up on the cues of me putting on my old biking shoes and helmet. I enjoy adding to his excitement by saying: "wanna go for a ride?". This makes him spin and jump like a puppy.
Once underway, his excitement does not abate. He barks incessantly, and instead of just running along side of me, chooses instead to circle around and cut back and forth in front of me. I swear, for every mile I ride, he must run three. Silly Doberman!
All his darting around thoroughly disrupts the leaf litter on the ground, the prime habitat of deer ticks, bane to both man and dog and purveyors of Lyme Disease. It is not uncommon after a ride for me to find ten or more (I think 20 is the record) on myself after a ride. I find considerably less on Dash because he has the benefit of monthly, year-round applications of Frontline. And the ones I do find on him are usually unattached and dying.
(Image courtesy capcvet.org)
We've just had the warmest recorded November here in southern Maine and, so far, this December has also been quite balmy and snowless. I can't remember a time that I've been out mountain biking so late in the year. And yes, I am still finding ticks. More so than I was in the late summer months. This is because in late summer, the ticks are undergoing a molt, changing from one life stage to another and as a result are relatively inactive. In fact, the parasitologists tell us that deer ticks are actually more active in early spring and late fall than they are at summer's end! I'm sure that the ticks are benefitting from all this warm weather but cold weather and snow don't seem to do much to slow them down. I have found ticks on both my own dogs and on patients in the middle of winter with snow on the ground!
Therefore, because ticks are so hardy, and can spread disease it is important to:
- Apply a veterinary-approved topical tick-killing product such as Frontline, Certifect (dogs only), Revolution or Vectra (dogs only) MONTHLY YEAR ROUND for all dogs and any cat that goes outdoors. These products are available at our office or from our Online Store
- Make sure your dog is vaccinated against Lyme Disease
- Have your dog screened yearly for tick-born diseases with a blood test at the DMVC