How to lick Lyme disease

How to lick Lyme disease

Consider these seven common myths clients believe about Lyme disease. Then learn how to respond to pet owners and protect their pets' health.
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Apr 01, 2013
By dvm360.com staff

Whether their source is old Uncle Moe and his 100-percent guaranteed homespun remedies or the shady all-the-stuff-your-veterinarian-doesn't-want-you-to-know-about-pets website clients consult before and after every diagnosis, pet owners can fall prey to some pretty crazy misinformation. Even the most informed clients can still suffer from misconceptions about the risks their pets face every day—especially when it comes to parasite infection. Many clients believe their pets aren't at risk from parasites, especially ticks.

This is where you, a steadfast member of your practice's parasite protection squad, come in. Whether you're the friendliest receptionist in the west or the all-time gentlest pet restrainer your practice has ever seen, you can benefit from adding one more skill to your list: able to lick Lyme disease with a single client conversation. Consider this list of common client myths about Lyme disease and learn how to debunk them:

Myth 1: I don't live in a wooded area, so my pet can't get ticks.

When clients assert their pets don't visit areas where ticks are commonly found, such as wooded areas and places with high grass or brush, it's helpful to explain that ticks are actually able to live out their entire life cycle within the pet owner's home. It helps to mention that woodpiles near or inside a home provide the perfect environment for ticks to survive. And if there are pets inside, this improves the environment for a tick's survival because they need readily available hosts.

You also might mention that when small rodents such as mice are infested with ticks, they can enter the house, assisting the tick's transportation indoors. Even if ticks don't make their way into the home, they can still live in low grass and trees—such as the back yards of most suburban homes. When pets play in these areas, they are at risk of tick infestation.

Myth 2: I haven't seen any ticks on my pets, so they aren't at risk.

Clients often find ticks on their pets once they're engorged and visible to the naked eye. However, the tick's life cycle includes two stages, larva and nymph, where they're not as easily noticed. While clients can remove adult ticks from their pets, they can't be sure that ticks haven't already laid eggs on the pets, continuing the tick infestation. Explain that ticks in the larva and nymph stage need blood meals to grow into adult ticks, and the pet's coat is the perfect place to grow.

Myth 3: I've only found a few ticks on my pet, so I'm sure he's fine.

The phrase "it only takes one" fits perfectly to describe the risk of Lyme disease. Clients can be diligent about checking for and removing ticks, but it still only takes one tick bite for a pet to contract Lyme disease. Explain that when clients find ticks on their pet, there's a good chance the pet has had other ticks they've missed. And even if they only find one tick, your practice wants to protect the pet's well-being by testing for tick-borne diseases in the months following the bite.

Myth 4: I apply a flea and tick preventive to my pet monthly, so I don't need to worry about Lyme disease.

While you want to praise clients for their compliance, it's important to avoid making guarantees about absolute protection. Depending on the pet's habits and environment, clients may need to take additional steps to prevent Lyme disease.

For example, because each product is different, the doctor may recommend different application schedules, depending on the product and the pet. Remind pet owners the veterinarian may also advise reapplying the product if the pet has been swimming or bathed, so it's a good idea to check with the veterinary team. And the doctor may also suggest routine testing for tick-borne diseases and vaccinations against Lyme disease.