Skippy in the woods – tick disease problems

Pests & Pathogens, Skippy, Suzie & Charley

chipmunk ferns

The woods near my garden are so lovely now. The ferns and grasses are lush. And so many woodland critters. Skippy and I enjoy a nice evening walk on the paths.

But I’m feeling badly for Skip. He had a check up with his veterinarian yesterday and he is positive for three of the four local tick-borne diseases. He tested positive for Anaplasma and the Lyme and Rocky Mountain Spotted fever pathogens. His doctor said, the good news is he doesn’t have Ehrlichia (the fourth local tick-borne pathogen). And, she said, the Rocky Mountain is very low and could be a cross reaction.

So Skippy is on antibiotics now (docycylin). I’m wondering is there are better tick medications available for Skippy – he gets Front-Line monthly. And I’m wondering is this topical medication is effective in a dog who is bathed weekly and swims daily. Hmmm. At least the antibiotic is available and does clear up the condition.

Skippy has had both Lyme and Anaplasma previously – one last spring and the other two springs ago. He never shows symptoms, to my eye. Its such a joy to see him romp through the woods and fields. Maybe these infections are just something we can’t avoid. Hopefully effective vaccines will be available soon. In the meantime, I clip him short, do a “tick-check” many times a day, and get him checked every spring at his vet.

Information on Lyme in dogs

(BTW can you find the chipmunk in one of the photos above?)

21 Comments. Leave new

  • When we lived in Cambridge our vet in Porter Square recommended Advantix as the most effective protection against ticks. My husband had Lyme last fall but so far our standard poodle Aesop is pathogen free. Love the photos of the garden, always an inspiration!

  • Saw you 'munk 🙂 How cute. I am sorry for skippy , I too have Lyme and am fighting it off , I have been taking a lot of extra omega 3 pills to help with the joint pain as well , you may want to ask your vet if that might help him as well.

  • Both my oldest son and I have had Lyme – but caught it early. Too bad they don't make inspect repellent clothing for pooches. I bought some this year for both of my boys and for me and it is so nice to keep the bugs off without smearing smelly chemicals all over and then getting it in an eye or mouth or something.

  • Awww … so sorry to hear about this. Those tickborne diseases are such a pain. Fortunately you did the right thing in testing him early (and often) and you caught them when they are easily treatable.

    We gave up using a chemical tick preventative a few years ago. I knew way too many people whose animals had had serious (in one case deadly) reactions to them and even more who had their dogs on them and their dogs STILL got a tick disease.

    So now I attempt to control the tick population in our yard (which looks a lot like yours) by spreading DE in the areas they frequent the most and feeding them garlic, which has *some* use as a natural tick preventative. With our big furry Newfoundlands there's no way we can find a tick until it's been attached and done it's damage, so I take them in twice a year for the in-office Snap 4 test, hoping, at least, that if I can't prevent it, we'll catch it early, like you did.

    Ticks are such a pain!

  • i am a big fan of the preventix collar.
    it lasts for 3 months and you can take it off him whenever you know he is going to be getting wet.

    i'm not the greatest fan of advantix.

    frontline around here works pretty good on ticks, but hasn't been working well for fleas.

    prevntix collars do not prevent fleas however. therefore if fleas are a problem for you, you can do an oral flea prevention called comfortis whose active ingerdent, i believe, but not %100 sure, is used sometimes as pest control in organic farming.

    and please don't forget your heartworm prevention.

    fortunately or unfortunately there is a slew of flea/tick/heartworm products and a slew of opinions surrounding each one.

    i always say at the end of the day it is what works best for your dog to keep them healthy and happy that counts.

    also checking him good at the end of each day helps. i thinks you have about 24-48 hours once the tick has attached before any disease is transfer from the tick to the dog.

    hope this helps.

    DOGS RULE!!!!!!!

  • Such a lovely wooded area. I have pulled off several ticks off my golden so far this year and so far so good (and these ticks are just from the back yard). Two weeks ago I came in from hanging some laundry on the clothesline and found a tick crawling up my leg when I came in to check my email.

  • u should really be wary of ticks.

    they can cause serious health issues for humans and animals because they carry many types of diseases. some of them are live threatning.

    the consequences of the infection might appear after a long time.

    all dogs, especially if they spend time outdoors, will end up getting bitten. always check yourself and your animals after you have been out. ferns are an especially attractive place for ticks.

  • I make an essential oil based tick repellant for dogs (and people) if you are interested. You will have to spray it on regularly, since Skippy gets a lot of baths.

    You can contact me through my site below.

  • Cathy … we used to live over in Storrs CT. Both dogs (at that time) had Lyme. Both were given courses of antibiotics. Both seemingly recovered. A year later, our Basset had to be put down. His symptoms from the Lyme went away and we assumed he was cured. But the spirochetes were still there and destroyed his liver. So, even after the antibiotic course is done, have Skippy tested to make sure he is really cured.

  • We have a big tick problem in our area and they vaccinate the dogs, though this isn't 100%, I have my dogs contract lyme even with the vaccine but I have 3 dogs and in 7 years have had only one positive lyme test so not bad. We also treat our lawn twice a year mostly for the kids but this also allows us to not use frontline on the dogs. Hope Skippy is back to tip top (negative) soon!

  • I'm going to ask Skippy's vet about additional tick protection like a collar in addition to Front Line, or the vaccine. I usually pull off 3-4 ticks per day. I have had days when I find more than 10. Especially if we visit my parents and walk in the woods there.

    I can't imagine if he was a Newfie with such thick fur!

    Only rarely do we find any crawling on us. Maybe one a month. And even more rare that one bites me (once a year), and no one else in the family yet.

    As I remember, Skippy's vet's procedure is to have us do the 10 days of antibiotics and then wait 3 months and test again. In the past the second test has come out negative.

    I sure hope this doesn't end up being a problem for Skip. I feel terrible to hear about pjkobulnicky's dogs 🙁

  • This sounds terrible. Makes me realise how lucky we are in the UK not to have this problem so badly. I guess you just have to keep examining Skippy and pulling off any ticks you find. Do make sure they don't bite you: I know Lyme disease can be horrible to live with! When I'm in Russia, folks never go into the forest without wearing long trousers, full length top (with sleeves) and a hat – even in summer. The risk of being bitten is taken v seriously there.

  • Aw, I'm sorry about Skippy's tick diseases. My sister's dog (in Framingham) got anaplasmosis not long ago, but she had to go to two vets to get a proper diagnosis; thankfully the treatment worked. My last dog had Lyme, too.
    Stupid ticks. I managed to get bitten by one last December, but no rash followed.
    I didn't know the Rocky Mountain fever had gotten to Boston! Ugh.

  • I forgot to add – I kind of think the preventives don't do much. My last dog (a PWD) got Lyme in his later years despite wearing protection; I think the tick population had just exploded. Before that year, he rarely got a tick.
    I've heard mixed things about the vaccine, but it's hard to tell who to believe sometimes.

  • When I lived in a tick infested area I found Frontline disappointing. He would come back from a walk infested with ticks.
    I found Advantix was more effective. There much less ticks on him after using it. It did seem to bother his skin so I went back to Frontline when we moved.

  • First, hope you are using Sentinel (for heartworm) as it contains a flea birth control that will prevent pesticide resistant fleas from exploding out of control, as they eventually do on frontline treated dogs. Sentinel contains lufenuron for fleas. Long story short, important to use it. Then I keep my dog clipped super short when there's no snow on ground, and have her wear an amitraz tick collar, except when she's swimming, when I take it off! In Puerto Rico, where they have pesticide resistant ticks, people tell me they wipe deep woods off (Deet) on their dogs before going into the field. I avoid ticky areas (tall grass, brush) when possible. Sorry your dog has that, bad news. Like your blog!

  • That is an awesome action shot of your dog running! What a cute dog. I also enjoy reading about your garden. I love both dogs and gardening so your blog is a double plus for me!!j

  • I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  • I have to say there have been NO ticks this summer. Crazy after so many all summer last year. I suppose its the wet weather this year.

    I am using FrontLine and Interceptor regularly for Skippy. He's never had a flea problem so why add another chemical.

    I'm glad if I don't see any more ticks. Good riddance!

    Skippy took his 28 day dosage of antibiotics and is feeling very perky now. I can't say that he had any noticeable symptoms of the Lyme, anaplasma and Rock Mountain diseases, but he may be a little more perky now after the treatment. Or maybe he's just glad the antibiotics are done. They give dogs a big dose and they are tough on the stomach.

  • Hi Kathy, a response to "why" add another chemical is because you'll eventually breed PESTICIDE RESISTANT fleas if you keep using only Frontline.

    Think about how antibiotic resistant bacteria are created. Similarly, Frontline doesn't kill ALL the fleas, just up to 98%. So the survivors breed, creating a stronger generation, and frontline kills only 90% of them, and so THOSE survivors breed, and it doesn't take long till you have created a flea colony that is not responsive to Frontline!

    Here on Peaks Island, and in many other locations, Frontline no longer works against fleas. At all. People with black dogs seem to be the last to know it, but it will happen to you too, just as if you were always using antibiotics, you'd be at high risk of eventually developing antibiotic resistant bacteria.

    Lufenuron is NOT a pesticide, it's a "flea birth control" doesn't kill fleas, just prevents them from laying viable eggs. So fleas don't become resistant to it. I've been using it 35 years.

    Ultimately more people using luferuron means less and safer pesticides for everyone. Trust me, you DON'T want to wait till you have the problem to predict it and prevent it.

  • Thanks! But… If Skippy eventually needs another chemical for fleas, I'll get it then. No problems at doggie-day-care with Frontline resistant fleas. Skippy's vet recommends Frontline.


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