Vector-borne diseases are more common in the spring, and this year is slated to be no exception. With both National Heartworm Awareness Month and Prevention of Lyme Disease in Dogs Month being observed in April, now is the time to prepare. Use these tips to get your practice ready for the season.
Sink your teeth into the current CAPC guidelines
The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) recommends conducting preventive physical examinations at least every 6–12 months. Use these visits to make sure your patients are receiving year-round broad-spectrum parasite control and regular testing. CAPC guidelines provide specific recommendations about how to screen for, diagnose, and treat heartworm, Lyme disease, and other tick-borne diseases, such as ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis. Make sure that your preventive care protocols reflect these best practices. Need help establishing a preventive care protocol? STEPs can help.
Know the buzz about diseases in your backyard
Make sure you’re up-to-date on what diseases are in your area. Lyme disease, for example, has spread to areas that haven’t historically seen the disease, and a recent story from NPR warns of the escalating and widespread risk. Reported Lyme cases in the U.S. number 30,000 per year, but the CDC estimates the true number to be 300,000. Blame the deer, the ticks they carry, or the white-footed mice that infect the ticks, but know that as the weather gets warmer, the risk of Lyme disease increases. Warmer temperatures also boost mosquito populations and the risk of heartworm disease for pets. None of this is good news, but it will help you explain to your clients why comprehensive screening and prevention are necessary.
Refer to CAPC’s interactive prevalence maps to make sure your staff is aware of all the different vectors that threaten your patients and their owners. Share what you learn with your clients to emphasize the importance of heartworm and tick-borne disease prevention, and increase compliance with your recommendations for regular screening.
Enlist pet owners in the fight against infection
We can’t entirely prevent the spread of vector-borne diseases, but there are steps your clients can take to increase their chances of navigating the season.
Heartworm disease is easy to avoid. Start by making sure clients understand the disease and that they have all the preventive medication the pet needs before leaving your practice. Unfortunately, no preventive is 100% effective, which is why clients need to know that their pet should be tested for heartworm every year.
The increasing prevalence of ticks means that your clients and patients are bound to encounter them. Here are a few things you can do to make sure pet owners know what to do to minimize the risk of infection for themselves and their pets.
Share this article from Pet Health Network with your clients to make sure they know how to check their dog for ticks.
Keep the risk top of mind and infection at bay by sending clients home with a tick remover. It’s a simple way to reinforce your recommendations and a low-cost way to add value to each visit. Plus, a personalized tool creates visibility for your practice long after the visit.
Get the most out of every vector-borne disease screen
Screening all of your patients, each year with a comprehensive test is an efficient way to identify infection and get a local view of the vectors that are preying on your patients. Only one pet-side test provides a comprehensive vector-borne disease screen. This ELISA detects six different pathogens: Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Anaplasma platys, Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme), Ehrlichia canis, Ehrlichia ewingii, and Dirofilaria immitis (heartworm).
It’s an efficient way to screen for evidence of infection, and whether results are positive or negative, they provide you with valuable information about your patient population. It’s common to detect infection in dogs that appear healthy, and there’s a lot you can do for these patients. Take this short tutorial to learn recommended next steps for each type of infection.