Gayle Nastasi, animal consultant and author
Stream-of-thought musing on the dilemma of ticks….
I paid a visit to my doctor yesterday, and am now on a two-week course of doxycycline. It appears I may have Lyme Disease.
The reason for going to see her was a bullseye rash on my arm (combined with several other symptoms). According to what my doctor explained, the rash only erupts during the acute phase of the disease, which means I would have been bitten a matter of weeks ago.
Weeks? It’s only early April. In our area, we have really only had a few days of true spring weather. It’s been cold; we’ve had snow. Yet, somehow, I was apparently bitten by a tick.
We had a week or two of really nice spring-like weather back in March. Temperatures skimmed the 70s, and naturally, I spent quite a bit of time outside. I played with the dog and horses, hung out in the yard, messed around in the garden, and, apparently, encountered not only a tick, but a black-legged tick nymph. Normally, you wouldn’t think ticks would be at that particular point in their life cycle in March. The ticks were not only active all winter, it seems; they were breeding.
Ticks don’t play fair.
Tick-borne diseases (in humans as well as other mammals) are on the rise, and that increase is happening at an alarming rate. Prevention measures for humans are pretty hit and miss, but we do have some decent options for our pets.
Those options, however, keep changing. For any given span of time, we have products to choose from which will (hopefully) continue to work for a while before the parasites develop a resistance. And there lies the drawback (aside from the point that we are, basically, feeding or applying insecticides to our dogs and cats).
By using more and more of these products, have we inadvertently contributed to the increase in the tick population and the spread of these diseases? It’s fairly common knowledge that, after a while, certain preventatives are less effective. The ticks and fleas seem to adapt to the poisons being used, leading us to develop new poisons, and the cycle continues.
We pet caregivers are in a tight spot. We need to protect the animals in our lives by using the products that are currently working, even though we know there is a possibility that we are breeding more resistant ticks in the process. Have we created superbugs which crawl out from the winter at any hint of sunlight, to attack unsuspecting pets and their humans in March?
The diseases are painful, debilitating, and even, sometimes, deadly. Tick diseases that used to be found in isolated areas are now common all over the world. We continue to use the products that are working at the time, even though the consequences might be negative in the long run, because we don’t want to risk the health of the dog or cat whom we so dearly love.
“But there are natural alternatives,” you say. Yes, there are, and some people swear by them. I have used several in the past, without much success. Others, though, appear to have had good luck with similar products. Perhaps it depends on the local tick population as much as the product itself.
When I was a child, I roamed the fields and woods in shorts and flip-flops. I would lie in the grass, climb the trees, and trudge through the bushes, all summer-day long. Never once did I encounter a tick.
Those days are gone. The arachnids have become the ruling class.
Whatever options you choose, do protect your pets, and (as much as you can) yourself, even though the odds are stacked against us.
What do you use for flea and tick prevention? Feel free to respectfully discuss your choices in the comments, if you wish. We can always learn from each other!
1. CDC Stats on the rise in tick-borne diseases in humans, as of 2017: https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/data-summary/index.html
News and Updates:
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Blessings and Light,