Ticks may be thought of simply as pesky little blood-suckers, but to your dog’s health they are certainly more than that.

All species of ticks want to attach to your dog, but for purposes of this article, we shall concentrate on the deer tick.  The deer tick is the vector for an array of diseases including anaplasmosis, tick paralysis and the dreaded Lyme disease. As someone who has had a dog that had contracted Lyme disease, and actually contracted the illness herself, Natasha can tell you that this is nothing to mess around with.  Lyme disease can cause fatigue, fever, muscle and joint aches - and if left untreated serious heart disease and chronic arthritis.  In the case of her own dog, it also racked up major vet bills and left him completely fatigued for nearly six months.  He would still eat normally and maintained most behavioral patterns, but a good six months of his 7th year of life was robbed to sleeping.  He had to undergo many injections over the months to provide vitamins his body couldn’t hold onto as well as oral medications. All this came from her backyard on Long Island.

Lyme disease is found very commonly in the northeast.  Actually the highest concentration of ticks in the entire country is found on Shelter Island - an 8,000 acre island-town between the twin forks of Long Island.  But do not think that New York City is immune to this pesky parasite!  Deer ticks carrying Lyme Disease have been collected in city parks in all 5 boroughs according to the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.  Even NYC dog meccas Prospect Park and Central Park have deer ticks so the city setting is not immune to these parasites.

We have been very fortunate to have never had any tick problems at Eva’s Play Pups Countryside Dog Camp.  This is most likely since the property is at a higher elevation where the temperatures are cooler and due to the fact that we also have a 6-ft. fence which keeps deer off the property.  However, this month has proven to us that this it is still the northeast!  After years of tick free bliss we found ticks on two campers after they romped in the woods with us for a week! Yikes!  We did discover that one of these furry friends had no tick protection whatsoever.  However, protected or not, it is inevitable that being in the great outdoors, there is always the risk of having ticks at camp.  This time of year is when ticks are especially hungry, latching on to available warm puppy bodies.  For this reason, we have to and we do take precautions.

This week at camp we are working hard to make our beautiful property less attractive to ticks!  We brought out the brush hog and are cutting down tall grass and brush all over our 30 Acres.  It is a lot of work but well worth it! Ticks love to hang in tall grass and dark damp places, so we are simply eliminating those places. We also do a daily tick check on our client’s dogs and our own dogs.  Not having seen ticks up here for years, this was not part of our daily routine - but now it sure is.  So far, we have not found any pesky blood suckers on our furry friends.

What dog owners should do:  Apply tick prevention to your dog’s health routine. Lyme disease is a serious disease that can cause fever of between 103 and 105°, lameness, swelling in the joints, swollen lymph nodes, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Being proactive will provide your dog the optimum protection.  We prefer Advantix brand based on personal experiences (Eva’s dogs are out and about all year long in the woods and she has never found a tick on her dogs using Advantix.) We are by no means medical professionals so we encourage you to approach your vet about what products to use before making any decisions.  

We are fully aware that there are dogs who react badly to pesticide ingredients common in most tick preventions.  Eva herself has a senior dog who cannot be in contact with any of the commercially available flea and tick products on the market.  So, what to do?  While there are natural alternatives, it is unclear whether they are as efficient in repelling fleas and ticks as medications such as Advantix or Frontline.  However, they are a natural non-toxic alternative and should not be discredited.  We do ask at camp is that you let us know if your dog is on natural tick and flea prevention so we can take extra care in looking over your dog for his/her safety.

Should you forget to apply tick prevention before sending your pup to Eva’s Play Pups Countryside Dog Camp, simply e mail us at dogcamp@evasplaypups.com.  We would be happy to apply Advantix for an extra charge of $20.  We hope that you will find this to be well worth the peace of mind for your furry friend.

Now that we have taken all the precautions and been as proactive as possible, let’s get out there and enjoy fall to the fullest!   Happy Hiking!