What We’ve Learned From 10,978 Ticks

According to a recent article in veterinary publication dvm360 regarding ticks:

“Perhaps the scariest of the blood-sucking hangers-on are ticks. But our understanding of tick parasitism has been sparse thus far.”1

The article states that until recently, little was known about the prevalence of individual tick species and their life stages on dogs and cats.
I confess my first thought when I read this was, “Wait, what? If the veterinary community doesn’t understand much about ticks on dogs and cats, why has it been so enthusiastically pushing chemical tick preventives for every pet, for year-round use, for decades?”
The article goes on to cite various studies beginning in 2007 that have revealed many more specifics about the prevalence of ticks on pets, tick species, gender and life cycles, attachment sites, when (month) and where (geographic location) the bites occurred, plus the age, gender, weight, spay/neuter status and estimated percentage of time affected pets spend outdoors.
What follows are some of the findings from a large-scale study at Oklahoma State University that covered the period February 2018 to January 2019. Tick submissions were solicited from 190 veterinary practices across the U.S., for a total of 10,978 ticks harvested from 1,494 dogs and 336 cats.
Dogs and Ticks

Data was collected on canine patients at 263 veterinary hospitals in 49 states — a total of 1,494 dogs.

Dog ages ranged from 40 days to 19 years
Average weight was 44 pounds
Gender and spay/neuter status were about the same as the general dog population
Half the dogs spent over 30% of their time outdoors
Most (over 90%) of the dogs had just one tick; 5.5% had more than 9 ticks; one poor animal was infested with over 4,700 ticks
A total of 14 tick species were identified: 36% of dogs were bitten by the American dog tick, 27% by the deer (black-legged) tick, 23% by the Lone Star tick and 11% by the brown dog tick; the remaining dogs were bitten by a variety of other species; about 6% were bitten by more than one tick species
A review of tick species with respect to percentage of total ticks revealed the brown dog tick as the most prevalent at 62%, followed by the Lone Star tick (19%), the American dog tick (10%) and the deer tick (6%)
Attachment sites appeared to be associated with the species of tick: the American dog tick, deer tick and brown dog tick were most often found attached to the head, ears and neck — the brown dog tick was also less frequently attached to the abdomen, axillae (“armpit”), groin, legs and paws; the Lone Star tick was more commonly attached to the abdomen, armpit and groin area
Cats and Ticks

Data was collected on feline patients at 109 veterinary clinics in 39 states — a total of 336 cats.

Cat ages ranged from 18 days to 18 years
Average weight was just under 10 pounds
Gender breakout was 59% male compared with 49.6% for the general cat population; a “disproportionately small percentage” were sterilized
Over 56% of cats spent more than 70% of their time outdoors
Average number of ticks per cat was 2.6, with a range of one to 38 ticks
A total of 12 tick species were identified: 46% of cats were bitten by the deer (black-legged) tick, 30% by the Lone Star tick and 18% by the American dog tick; the remaining cats were bitten by a variety of other species; about 4% were bitten by more than one tick species
A review of tick species with respect to percentage of total ticks revealed the Lone Star tick as the most prevalent at 39%, followed by the deer tick (32%) and the American dog tick (14%)
Attachment sites mirrored those for dogs
New Findings From the Oklahoma State Study

The primary ticks infesting dogs were the brown dog tick, the Lone Star tick and the American dog tick (totaling 95% of submissions)
For cats, the Lone Star tick, the American dog tick and the black-legged tick accounted for 80% of samples
About 40% of the ticks removed from dogs and cats were adult females, however, nearly half were larvae and 16% were nymphs, therefore, “This finding confirms that immature stages of some common tick species are significant players in tick parasitism of pets. It also suggests the importance of tick control, as these small stages can be overlooked easily.”
Certain tick species are expanding their geographic distribution
There is a year-round presence of feeding ticks in the U.S.
A small portion of pets were reported to rarely or never go outside, suggesting that ticks are carried indoors on clothing and other pets
“Cats may be underrepresented as hosts for ticks”
Protecting Your Pet From Ticks

While all of the above information is good to know, it doesn’t change any of the recommendations I’ve been offering pet parents for years with regard to protecting dogs and cats from ticks and tick-borne disease.
When it comes to flea and tick protection, many veterinarians recommend chemical preventives as a solution (some even recommend them to pets year-round), but I don’t agree with the automatic use of chemicals as a means of attempting to control nature.
In deciding how to best protect your dog or cat from ticks, I recommend you assess your pets like you do the rest of your family. If you’re planning a hike in a high-risk area and plan to use chemicals to repel parasites on you or your kids, your dogs will also need the same level of protection (so you’ll need to be prepared with products from your vet).
You need to take into account when pest season begins and ends where you live, your pet’s individual risk (e.g., do you go for long walks in the woods or do a lot of hiking?; does your furry family member have unrestricted access to the outdoors?), as well as the level of disease risk in your area.
Ticks are resilient and increasingly resistant to pesticides, and because they feed on many different animals (humans, dogs, cats, squirrels, mice, opossums, deer and more), and they feed for long periods of time, they’re quite good at acquiring and transmitting diseases, some of which can be life-threatening.
So even if you opt to use chemicals on your human and canine family members, it’s still wise to do tick checks once you’re home; don’t rely solely on any product and assume you are protected. Tick-borne diseases include:
Lyme disease
Cytauxzoonosis
Rocky Mountain Spotted FeverEhrlichiosis
AnaplasmosisHepatozoonosis
BabesiosisTularemia
Unfortunately, a single tick bite can expose your whole family to multiple diseases, but exposure is not the same as infection. In many cases, your pet will be able to fight off tick-borne diseases with no treatment required. The immune system of most dogs and cats does exactly what it’s supposed to do when a foreign bacterium enters the body — it mounts an effective immune response.
The only way to know if a pet has effectively eliminated the bacteria (was exposed but not infected) or is currently infected is to run a QC6 (Quantitative C6) test that differentiates exposure from infection. Sadly, large numbers of dogs and even some cats each year are unnecessarily treated with extensive antibiotic therapy because their veterinarians panic after seeing a positive exposure. Please don’t let your vet do this!
Up to 90% of dogs in certain areas (and substantially fewer cats)2 may have been exposed to tick-borne pathogens, but most are able to fight off infection on their own. In those that do not, quickly identifying the problem and creating an appropriate treatment plan is crucial. I recommend that my clients who live in tick-endemic areas or who have pets who receive multiple tick bites each year have them tested every six months.
How do you make sure you’re catching possible tick-borne infections before they take hold? Ask your veterinarian to replace the standard heartworm test with a more comprehensive annual blood test that identifies several tick-borne potential pathogens long before dogs show symptoms.
The SNAP 4Dx Plus (from Idexx Labs) and the Accuplex4 tests (Antech Diagnostics) that screen for heartworm, Lyme disease and two strains each of ehrlichia and anaplasma should be screening tests for dogs in tick-endemic areas, in my opinion. Completing one of these simple blood tests every 6 to 12 months is the best way to:
Avoid unnecessary chemical preventive application

Identify infections before chronic disease occurs

Catch cases of dogs infected as a result of pesticide resistance (a growing problem)
I also recommend that pets living in tick-infested areas who test positive on the SNAP 4Dx Plus or the Accuplex4 also be screened for babesia exposure. The best way to detect exposure to this parasite is with a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test that checks for the presence of babesia DNA. Unfortunately, there isn’t a quick in-house test that checks for feline tick-borne diseases, probably because they occur in much lower frequency, compared to dogs.
Before You Reach for a Chemical Pest Preventive

I strongly discourage pet parents from automatically applying potentially toxic chemical agents to their pets or around their home to repel or kill pests. Each pesticide application should have thoughtful awareness that assesses risks vs. benefits for all family members. The use of spot-on products may cause skin irritation, paralysis, seizures and even death if used improperly, and there are effective natural alternatives that are far safer.
In addition, ticks are growing resistant to chemical pesticides, which means your dog or cat may still be exposed to tick-borne disease. If, however, you choose to use these chemicals, follow these precautions:
Be very careful to follow dosing directions on the label, and if your pet is at the low end of a dosage range use the next lowest dosage. Be extremely cautious with small dogs, and do not under any circumstances apply dog product to your cat.

Monitor your pet for adverse reactions after you apply a chemical product — especially when using one for the first time.

Don’t depend exclusively on chemical treatments. Rotate natural preventives with chemicals, including diatomaceous earth, pet-friendly essential oil products and natural deterrent collars. An every-other-month rotation works well for many pet parents. In many parts of the country people find they can successfully control ticks with two doses a year: one in the spring and one in the late summer.
Since your pet’s liver will be tasked with processing the chemicals that make it into the bloodstream, it can be very beneficial to give a supplement to help detoxify the liver. I recommend milk thistle, which is a detox agent and also helps to regenerate liver cells. Another product I recommend is chlorella, a super green food that is a very powerful detox agent.
Work with your integrative veterinarian to determine how much to give your pet depending on her age, weight and the medications she’s taking. I recommend one dose daily for seven days following any chemical flea, tick or heartworm preventive application.
Safe, Non-toxic Alternatives to Chemicals
There are safe, non-toxic alternatives for flea and tick control for pets, and they don’t have side effects, unlike virtually all forms of chemical pesticides. Alternatives I recommend include:
A safe, natural pest deterrent
Cedar oil (specifically manufactured for pet health)
Natural, food-grade diatomaceous earth, topically (not on the face)
Fresh garlic (¼ teaspoon of freshly chopped garlic per 15 pounds of body weight once daily)
Feed a nutritionally optimal, species-specific fresh food diet
Bathe and brush your pet regularly and perform frequent full-body inspections to check for parasite activity (if your dog or cat spends a lot of time outdoors, it’s important to check your pet and yourself for ticks every night during tick season)
Use a flea and tick comb to naturally exfoliate your pet’s skin while removing or exposing pests (absolutely nothing takes the place of physically checking for ticks)
Make sure both your indoor and outdoor environments are unfriendly to pests

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2020 Dog Bite Fatality: Baby Killed by Family Pit Bull While Under the Care of his Grandmother in Akron, Ohio

A 7-month old boy is dead after being mauled by a family pit bull in Akron, Ohio. Baby Killed by Dog Akron, OH – A baby boy is dead after being mauled by a pit bull, according to Akron police. … Continue reading →
The post 2020 Dog Bite Fatality: Baby Killed by Family Pit Bull While Under the Care of his Grandmother in Akron, Ohio appeared first on DogsBite Blog.

The Complete Natural Remedies Guide For Itchy Dogs And Dogs With Allergic Skin Reactions

Did you know that almost a quarter of all vet visits are due to skin problems like itching and allergies? It’s the number one reason for a trip to the veterinarian. Dogs can suffer all sorts of skin-related problems, and itchiness and discomfort are just the beginning. Wounds that won’t heal, such as hot spots or lick granulomas; chronic yeast or bacterial infections; and even hair loss can result from itchiness and allergies. Listening to your dog scratching all night … Read more
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The Best Vegetables to Feed Your Dog or Cat

Vegetables should make up only a small percentage of your dog’s or cat’s nutritionally optimal, species-specific diet, however, that doesn’t mean they aren’t crucially important to your pet’s health.
In the wild, wolves and coyotes consume grasses, berries and wild fruits and vegetables as sources of these crucial nutrients, which not only provide roughage (fiber), but also a variety of nutritive substances not found in meats, bones and organs.
Wild cats, as strict carnivores, consume the predigested vegetable matter contained in the gastrointestinal (GI) tracts of their prey and occasionally nibble on grasses. To mimic their ancestral diet, only very small amounts of pureed veggies are added to commercial and homemade cat food. Without their inclusion, cats are prone to constipation and GI motility issues, and the diversity of the microbiome is negatively impacted.
Although the volume of roughage (veggies) in biologically appropriate diets is relatively small for dogs and even smaller for cats, their inclusion plays a critical role in maintaining digestive and microbiome health. Not only do veggies provide prebiotic fibers for short chain fatty acid production in the colon, they provide the soluble and insoluble fiber necessary to maintain healthy elimination and immune-boosting phytonutrients.
What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

Researchers are still discovering the extensive health benefits of consuming the flavonoids, flavonols, anthocyanins, lignans, stilbenes and other polyphenols naturally found in fresh veggies, but how these substances may actually bolster health could surprise you: hormesis.
Hormesis is the premise that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger; it’s the observation that substances considered unhealthy in large amounts may actually promote health, in minute quantities. Most people assume that phytochemicals are directly antioxidant, that they scavenge reactive oxygen species in the body.
National Institute of Health’s Dr. Mark Mattson studies how plant chemicals, or phytonutrients, affect the body. Dr. Mattson thinks these substances work more indirectly (similar to exercise), by stressing the body in a way that leaves it stronger. As shared in Nautilus, Mattson explains that:

“Plants live a stationary life. They cannot respond to pathogens, parasites, and grazers as we might — by moving. To manage the many threats posed by mobile life, as well as heat, drought, and other environmental stresses, they’ve evolved a remarkable number of defensive chemicals.

We’re familiar with many components of their arsenal. The nicotine that we so prize in tobacco slows grazing insects. Beans contain lectins, which defend against insects. Garlic’s umami-like flavor comes from allicin, a powerful antifungal. These “antifeedants” have evolved in part to dissuade would-be grazers, like us (and other animals).

These plant ‘biopesticides’ work on our bodies like hormetic stressors. Our bodies recognize them as slightly toxic, and we respond with an ancient detoxification process aimed at breaking them down and flushing them out.

Consider fresh broccoli sprouts. Like other cruciferous vegetables, they contain an antifeedant called sulforaphane. Because sulforaphane is a mild oxidant, we should, according to old ideas about the dangers of oxidants, avoid its consumption. Yet studies have shown that eating vegetables with sulforaphane reduces oxidative stress.

When sulforaphane enters your blood stream, it triggers your cells to activate a protein called Nrf2. This protein, called by some the ‘master regulator’ of aging, then activates over 200 genes.”1

Harvard longevity scientist Dr. David Sinclair calls this phenomenon “xenohormesis,” where we (and our pets) benefit from consuming the phytochemicals plants produce during stress. He found that when plants stimulate Nrf2 in animals’ bodies, hundreds of beneficial reactions occur that control inflammation, encourage detoxification, stimulate the body’s natural antioxidant production and even evoke a tumor suppression response.2
When many fresh feeders started feeding unprocessed pet food thirty years ago, it wasn’t uncommon to hear some pretty strange (and now-debunked) myths, including “dogs don’t produce amylase, so feeding veggies can harm your dog.”
Thankfully, continued research has corrected many of these fresh pet food fallacies, and Dr. Sinclair’s animal research continues to back up what our grandma told us: eat your veggies, they’re good for you. They’re also critical, in small amounts, for our pets.
The goal is to provide a biologically appropriate amount of roughage via low glycemic veggies; the phytochemicals and vitamins that are naturally included in fresh produce are passed right up the food chain.
Vitamins in Vegetables

Vegetables are also a great source of fiber, minerals and vitamins. Whole food sources of vitamins keep pets’ skin and coat healthy, strengthen bones and teeth, and provide the necessary co-factors to fuel reactions for the body to make energy. In addition, vitamins contribute to disease resistance.
The vitamins found in ultra-processed pet food are laboratory made (synthetic), “feed grade” (not tested for contaminants or impurities) and can be found in unnatural amounts, compared to real food sources. Fresh veggies provide whole food nutrients in the form your pet’s body recognizes and resonates with.

• Provitamin A, or beta-carotene, is important for sight, cell division and the immune system; is required to generate cells; supports the immune system; and plays an important role in the growth of young animals. The carotenoids are found in bright-colored veggies like broccoli, spinach carrots, squash, sweet potatoes and tomatoes.
• Vitamin E is an important antioxidant that protects cells against the effects of free radicals and plays a role in the regulation of cellular metabolism, the generation of red blood cells, and the maintenance of muscle and other tissues. Vitamin E is found in broccoli, pumpkin, spinach and carrots.
• Vitamin K is essential for good blood clotting and is required for bone strength. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables such as broccoli and spinach.
• B Vitamins are found in green vegetables like broccoli, spinach and pumpkin.

◦ Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is necessary to convert carbohydrates into energy, and for the proper functioning of the heart muscle, the nervous system and the brain.
◦ Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) plays an important role in releasing energy from carbohydrates, protein and fat and is required for the generation of red blood cells and antibodies
◦ Vitamin B6 is involved in energy production and the metabolism of fats and proteins (building amino acids); it also regulates the functioning of certain hormones and is vital to growth, blood production and the proper functioning of the immune system and nervous system
◦ Vitamin B9 (folic acid) contains folate and is necessary for the growth and functioning of the body, the generation of white and red blood cells and clearing of homocysteine, and also plays an important role in the early development of unborn puppies and kittens

• Vitamin C is an antioxidant necessary for immune system function, construction of connective tissue (collagen), and the absorption of iron. Broccoli and pumpkin are two sources pets usually love.

Safe Veggies for Dogs and Cats

The following list highlights just a few examples of the veggies you may have in your refrigerator right now that can add valuable nutrition to your pet’s diet, when fed as snacks. Try to buy organic or spray-free:
Broccoli — Your pet can reap the benefits of broccoli (and sulforaphane) just like you can, which includes detoxification, anti-inflammatory properties and nutrients like potassium, calcium, protein and vitamin C. Your pet may prefer steamed broccoli
Brussels sprouts — Similar to broccoli, Brussels sprouts provide anti-inflammatory, detoxification and even anticancer benefits, plus loads of nutrients and antioxidants
Carrots — Another carotenoid-rich food many dogs and some cats enjoy
Celery — Celery provides vitamin C, lots of microbiome-building fiber and may even freshen your pet’s breath
Cucumbers — Cucumbers are crunchy and low in calories, but rich in vitamins like K, C and B1
Green beans — This dinnertime staple provides vitamins, C and K, along with calcium, copper, fiber, folic acid, iron, niacin, manganese, potassium, riboflavin, thiamin and beta-carotene
Mushrooms (technically fungi but classified as vegetables) — Obviously avoid poisonous mushrooms (and don’t let your pet eat wild mushrooms for this reason), but the medicinal mushrooms you eat (such as shiitake, reishi, maitake and button) are also good for your dog or cat; they contain anticancer and immune-boosting properties
Peas — Fresh or frozen peas make excellent training treats (to maximize nutrition and minimize sodium intake, avoid canned veggies)
Spinach — This green leafy vegetable has anti-inflammatory properties and can help support heart health
Click here to learn about many more fresh foods you can safely use as healthy treats for your pets.
Nutritious Ways to Feed Vegetables to Your Pet

There are a few different ways to prepare vegetables to make them optimally digestible for dogs and cats, and one of the best and most nutritious methods is to ferment them. Fermentation actually imitates the digestion of plant foods in the GI tracts of the small prey animals that dogs and cats eat in the wild.
Fermented veggies can also be beneficial in keeping pets healthy, thanks in large part to their probiotic effect. Beneficial gut bacteria play a critical role in managing digestive issues and a wide range of other health problems in dogs and cats. The fermenting of vegetables produces beneficial microbes (probiotics) that help balance gut bacteria. This in turn boosts your pet’s overall immunity because a healthy gut means a healthy pet.
And fermented vegetables not only provide a wider variety of beneficial bacteria than probiotic supplements, they also provide far more of them. For example, one human serving size of fermented veggies provides the same benefit as an entire bottle of high-potency probiotics!
Fermented vegetables are also potent chelators and detoxifiers, so they help rid your pet’s body of toxins, including potentially pathogenic bacteria3 and heavy metals. The fermentation process makes the nutrients inside the food more bioavailable as well.
It produces vitamin C, B vitamins, vitamin K2 and enzymes (which all support metabolic activity), choline (which balances and nourishes the blood) and acetylcholine for neurotransmitter production as well. In addition, the lactic acid produced by fermentation is a chemical repressor that fights cancer cells without harming healthy cells.
Some dogs and even the occasional cat will dive right in when offered fermented veggies, while others refuse because the smell and taste is pungent, sort of like very tangy sauerkraut. If your dog is one who’ll eat just about anything, try adding a half teaspoon or less of fermented vegetables to his regular food.
For pets who will eat them, it’s important to introduce fermented veggies gradually and in small quantities to avoid digestive upset. You can work up to feeding a teaspoon for every 20 pounds of body weight a day.
For finicky pets who won’t eat fermented foods, start by mixing a bland veggie, such as a small amount of minced zucchini, in with their food. Using small pieces of fresh veggies as treats throughout the day is also a great way to increase whole food nutrient intake without adding lots of calories.
Veterinary researchers are just beginning to study the critical role of a healthy microbiome in maintaining pets’ immunologic and physiologic well-being. The more nutritional variety you can offer your pet, the richer their gut microbial diversity will be, so serve up those pet-friendly veggies. You can safely replace 10% of your dog’s (and 5% of your cat’s) ultra-processed food with fresh or gently steamed low glycemic veggies.
The more we learn about food, the more we discover the vast and intricate connections between the gut and the rest of our pets’ bodies, including behavioral and epigenetic influences. Research shows adding even small amounts of veggies to a bowl of kibble can have significant anti-cancer benefits,4 among a myriad of other health benefits.Sources:PetfoodIndustry.com Comments (3)

Teenager Suffers Critical Injuries, Crushed Trachea, in Violent Pit Bull Attack in Burrow’s County, Georgia

Joslyn Stinchcomb, 15, suffered critical injuries and a crushed trachea in pit bull attack. Medical Condition Updates Winder, GA – Last Friday, Joslyn Stinchcomb, 15-years old, was walking in her neighborhood near Bowman Mill Road NE when two pit bulls … Continue reading →
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Man Reunited With Dog He Thought Died In Wildfire

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