Well folks, it’s official; social distancing and lockdown measures are set to continue for at least another 3 weeks, thanks to Covid-19. I know I’ve said it before, but I really am fascinated by the large scale disruption that something as microscopically tiny as the Corona Virus can cause; I can’t help it, it’s the geeky kid that still lurks inside me!
For many of us, and I include myself here, the one thing that is helping us stay sane (ish!) is the once daily outdoor exercise that we’re permitted to do. Up and down the length and breadth of the UK there are thousands of dogs living their best lives right now; they’ve never had their humans flipping a coin to see whose turn it is to take them out for walkies this time! There is also the same amount of kitties similarly living their best lives by not having to walk outside on command; instead they get to dictate to their working-from-home human minion how much fuss they want and disrupt any hope of keyboard typing by strutting in front of the screen or laying on the keyboard itself 🙂
Now that we’re in the full swing of spring there are lots of creatures about that aren’t so great for your canine’s well-being; ticks being one of them. Normally these spider-like critters live on sheep and deer in rural areas, so you don’t routinely come into contact with them; more often than not it’s ticks on small mammals (like hedgehogs) that wander into our gardens that Fido will encounter. In these socially distant times though, as we’re trying to avoid other humans, we’ve been venturing into more rural and off-the-beaten-track paths, fields and woodland so we have been seeing increased numbers of livestock.
Ticks can carry Lyme disease if they’ve bitten an infected host, and they then transmit this humans and canines alike. Common tell-tale signs and symptoms (common to both dogs and humans) of Lyme disease is a circular ‘bulls-eye’ rash that spreads out from the tick bite, an increased temperature and lethargy; your pooch may also have lameness that comes and goes.
The chances of Fido getting Lyme disease are fairly low thankfully; they’re more likely to get an infection from their human incorrectly removing a tick from their body! Contrary to popular belief, covering the tick with Vaseline, butter, lard (or any type of oil!) will not get rid of it and please don’t attempt to burn the parasite off with a lighter or cigarette; at the very least you’ll singe your pooch’s fur, and you could end up burning them and /or yourself. With either of these measures all that will happen is the tick will regurgitate its meal back into your dogs’ body which increases the risk of infection. Not nice.
For a relatively small outlay of cash you can get a safe, effective tick removing tool from the internet or from your local pet-store; this will get rid of the unwanted offender with minimal/ no trauma to your pet.
We, as vets, have lots of weapons in our arsenal to fight ticks, such as sprays and ‘spot-on’ options; at SLVC we use Simparica as it’s really effective, but we always use a treatment mode that is best for you and your dog 🙂
I would just like to remind anyone that is rambling in rural/countryside settings to close any gates behind them, stick to the edges of fields or designated rights of way, and please keep Fido on a leash wherever there is livestock around. There are currently lots of lambs and calves in the fields, leaping and running around like loons (as is their normal behaviour!) and the moment your dog spots one of them, their ‘chase/hunt’ instinct kicks in and away they go. If you haven’t got your dog on a leash you’ll have no chance of recalling them – unless they’re a trained sheepdog! British farmers are doing a sterling job of keeping the food chain supplied in what are already tough times; let’s not add to their stress, please. Thank you 🙂
the only venomous snake indigenous to our shores. The warming temperatures see them coming out of hibernation, although you probably won’t see them before they see you and take cover. Fido, however, may well come across the odd one as he/she snuffles and pokes about in the longer grass and rocky patches. If they get too close for (the Adder’s) comfort then your hound could well get a bite for their troubles, which rapidly swells and becomes painful to them. You may hear them yelp as they get bitten but if not, look out for pale gums, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhoea, and excessive drooling/salivation; inspect any swollen areas for puncture wounds, too. The sooner you contact us here at Saint Leonard Veterinary Centre, the sooner we can examine and begin treating them, which involves close observation, intravenous fluids and the administration of anti-venom if needed.
The final point I want to make today concerns pooch’s paws. All this extra exercise is great for their waistline, but may take its toll on paw health: pads may get cracked and sore, claws may wear down excessively and grass seeds/ debris may get lodged between toes. As long as you wash, wipe and inspect your furry family member’s digits after each walk or at the end of each day, all should be good. If Fido does get a splinter or seed lodged in them anywhere, don’t hesitate to give the SLVC team a call; we’ll soon get the offender out and nip any potential infection in the bud – I always say prevention is better than cure!
Until next time; stay (socially distant) safe, stay well, and be happy 🙂