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Tick-borne diseases: also, some equine recommendations.

QUESTION I have a 2-year-old male pointer that was positive for Ehrlichia when his heartworm test was done. The doctor said we should check with another blood test; it came back normal and now we don't have to do anything. What can I do to prevent this in the future?--D

ANSWER Many clinics now use the 4DX test from Idexx for their heartworm testing because it also screens for Lyme disease, Anaplasma and Ehrlichia. We have discussed heartworm testing in dogs in past columns, so we will focus on these three tick-borne diseases.

Many of the positive results for these tests are just showing a footprint of the disease left over in the immune system of the dog. If the dog is not sick based on history and physical exam, then a CBC would be performed. if found to be normal also, then no treatment would be required.

If the CBC were affected, especially if the platelet count was significantly lowered, then we would prescribe Doxycycline. Lyme positives would be handled a little differently.

All three infections show that the dog has been exposed to ticks. The main take-away from your case is that you probably need to be more rigorous with your tick control methods for the dog. Nexgard has been working great for us.


QUESTION This isn't a direct dog question, but I am getting into pointing dog field trials and I will probably need to get a horse of my own. What kind of basic vet care do horses need? I have heard of the vaccinations and wormers but what about their teeth and feet? Any advice would be appreciated. Hope this is in your comfort zone. Thanks!--J

ANSWER I think I have enough experience in this area to make some educated comments. First, make sure you are getting a horse that is safe for you if you are not the most experienced rider. Basic vaccinations are typically done in the spring. These include Rabies, West Nile, and the Sleeping Sickness/Tetanus/Flu/Rhino combo.

Rabies vaccination should be given to any animal with frequent contact with people. West Nile virus is transmitted by mosquitoes and the vaccine should be given months before the peak of infections in July and August. The combo protects against another mosquito-borne disease, Equine Encephalitis or Sleeping Sickness.

Also Tetanus is included; this disease would be the most likely thing your horse may be exposed to as the bacterial spores that cause the disease survive in the soil for a long time. Wounds allow the bacteria into the horse's body. Toxins released from the bacteria cause the disease commonly called Lockjaw. The Flu/Rhino component is protection against some strains of these respiratory viruses. These would be spread by direct contact or aerosol from infected horses close by.

Deworming horses is very important also. Horses are exposed to intestinal worm larvae and eggs when they are grazing. They should be dewormed at least three times in the spring, April, May, and June, in the upper Midwest, then twice at least in the late summer and fall, with a final treatment in November that also treats stomach bots. Ask your vet about specific products to use. You will need to become familiar with fly spray for the horse also.

Many horses need their teeth floated. This involves filing or grinding down teeth that grow into sharp points that damage the inside of the mouth. Hopefully your new horse would not need this done too often, but the older the horse the more likely it may be needed. Find out what the history of the horse has been with this procedure. You may also have your veterinarian evaluate the teeth prior to you making a purchase.

It is very likely your new, horse will need its feet trimmed on a regular basis and may need shoes depending on his use. You will need to have a farrier help with these procedures. You will want references or referrals to select a farrier.

I would also suggest using electric fencing in addition to standard fencing as horses can ruin good fences by leaning on or through them. This should help you get started.

Contact Dr. Holcomb with your questions at

By John Hokomb, DVM
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Title Annotation:Veterinary Clinic
Author:Hokomb, John
Publication:Gun Dog
Date:Sep 30, 2017
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