Tick Season Preparedness: How to prevent and treat tick bites on dogs

Caught in the wrong place, at the wrong time and your dog can be bitten by dozens of ticks.


Types of ticks


Where to look for ticks


Because ticks are small and their bites don’t itch, they are easily overlooked — especially adult deer ticks and the nymphs of any species. Ticks prefer warm, moist conditions, so double-check under collars and around ears. If you aren’t sure what a lump or bump is, inspect it with a magnifying glass. Warts, similar skin growths, and nipples can feel like feeding ticks.


How to remove ticks on dogs

Be careful and cautious when removing a tick. Grasp it with tweezers firmly at the head, or as close to the dog’s skin as possible, and slowly pull straight back. Never twist, press, burn, or apply irritating substances like kerosene to an attached tick because doing so can cause the parasite to expel the contents of its digestive tract, creating an unwanted hypodermic effect.


Disinfecting the area

Keep in mind that any contact with the tick’s blood can potentially transmit an infection to your dog or even you. Treat the area with three-percent hydrogen peroxide, the common disinfectant. It is recommended for tick bites because the oxygen it contains destroys the Lyme disease bacteria. Hydrogen peroxide can be liberally poured over bites on light-haired dogs (keep away from eyes and apply directly to skin!), but because it is bleach, this method is not recommended for black or dark-haired dogs. Using an eye dropper to apply hydrogen peroxide directly to the bite helps prevent unwanted bleaching.


Prevention is key

Make an appointment today to learn what is the right flea and tick prevention treatment for your dog. To learn more about which tick-borne disease have been confirmed in your neighborhood, visit the map over at dogsandticks.com along with a detailed look at each disease by us here at River Landings Animal Clinic.

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Service Dogs 101: Information on Service Dogs

What is a service dog?

Service dogs, assistance dogs, and alert dogs can help make life easier for people with disabilities.

Some of the disabilities in which dogs are trained to aid in are:

  • Mobility issues (including Paralysis)
  • Sensory issues (Blindness, hearing loss, etc)
  • Diabetes (Diabetic Service Dogs)
  • Epilepsy or Seizure Disorders (Seizure Alert Dogs)
  • Autism (Autism Service Dogs)
  • Stability (Wheelchair Assistance Dogs)
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD Service Dogs)
  • Psychiatric Disorders (Psychiatric Service Dogs) - Trained to service those who are diagnosed with major depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, General Anxiety Disorder, social phobia, Alzheimer’s Dementia, and Schizophrenia.

What do service dogs help with?

A service dog aids individuals with limitations in their day-to-day routine in life. Some of the basic tasks they can provide are:

  • Retrieve medication and other items
  • Open doors and cabinets
  • Pick up a phone
  • Alert authorities
  • Turn on and off lights
  • Alert owner to seizures
  • Alert owner to changes in blood sugar
  • Find keys
  • Take off shoe and socks
  • Carry groceries or laundry
  • Assist with walking
  • Alert owner to sounds (doorbell, phone, etc)
  • Pick up mail
  • Provide companionship

Although trained to perform this basic tasks, each dog is trained specifically to fit their owner’s personal needs.

Service dogs are protected under US federal law

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an individual with a disability is entitled to a service dog to help them live their lives normally. The ADA protects disabled individuals by allowing them to bring their service dog with them to most places that the public is permitted, including restaurants, hotels, housing complexes, and even in air travel. Any dog can be a service dog and service dogs do not have to be professionally trained. The important thing is that the dog is trained to be a working animal and not a pet.

DID YOU KNOW: There are approximately 20,000 service dogs in the U.S., which includes 10,000 guide dogs.

(American Humane Association, U.S. Pet and Population Fact Sheetsource)

Identifying service dogs for the public and public knowledge

Often a service dog will be identifiable by a service dog tag or vest. This is to let the public know it is a service dog and not a pet. Airlines and other means of transport may require identification, such as ID cards/tags.

Living with your service dog

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) gives individuals the right to live with their service dog, regardless of any building or residences with a no pet policy. This is because a service dog is not considered a pet and is required for daily life functions/activities. Building managers or landlords may not refuse your service dog nor may they require you to submit any pet deposits or fees for your service dog. Hotels fall under the same policy.

Flying with your service dog

Same as living with your service dog, under the ADA law, airlines may not charge additional fees for having a service dog at their side, nor may they deny access.

Common service dog breeds

  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Lab/Golden Retriever crossbred dogs
  • German Shepherds

Local Florida service dog training

Southeastern Guide Dogs is the standout organization as far as service dogs go:

Southeastern Guide Dogs has the distinction of being dually accredited by the two premier, global accreditation bodies: the International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF) and Assistance Dogs International (ADI). Founded in 1982 in Palmetto, Florida, we employ the latest in canine development and behavior research to create and nurture partnerships between visually impaired individuals and extraordinary guide dogs. Southeastern Guide Dogs serves more than 450 graduates across the U.S. and continues to place more than 100 dogs each year into careers benefiting people with visual impairments and veterans. While receiving no government funding, we provide all of our dogs and services at no cost to recipients.

Visit their website at www.guidedogs.org

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Spring Cleaning Regime for Pets & Pet Owners

Pets shouldn't be overlooked in spring cleaning. For pet parents, cleaning their pet's belongings may be obvious, but the importance of replacing other items may not be. That's where we come in.


Drop the winter weight

Many of us pack on a few pounds during the cold winter months, and chances are our dogs have too. If your dog is looking a little fuller these days it's time to talk to your veterinarian about a safe weight loss regimen for your dog. Try cutting back on treats that add calories to your dog's diet. Instead, try giving him baby carrots.


Grooming of the coat

Shedding increases in the springtime as dogs lose their winter coats. Make sure to brush your dog regularly. This will help keep the shedding under control, as brushing loosens and removes dead hair and dandruff from your dog’s coat.


Bedding refresh

Your pet probably spends most of his time indoors. Spruce things up by refreshing his favorite places, including his bed, kennel or favorite napping spot. First, vacuum in and around the area to remove hair and dirt. Next, if he sleeps in a plastic or wire crate, take it outside, hose it down and dry it thoroughly. Then, launder blankets or bedding, tossing and replacing any worn items.


Collars and leashes

Often these can be washed in a washing machine. Remember to place in a garment bag to prevent tangling. Check collars and leashes for wear and tear and replace when necessary.


Toy clean up

Throw away any toys that are permanently soiled, damaged or simply ignored by your pet. Gather any plush toys and launder them so they’re fresh and fluffy again. Hand-wash any plastic or rubber toys, too. If your pet has lots of toys, you can rotate them weekly to keep your pet interested. You might also keep a set of durable, Kong-type or rope toys for outdoor playtime, and keep the soft, squeaky plush toys inside so they last longer.


Double-check on medications

If you give your pet medications or supplements, go through everything and toss any that are old or have expired. Make sure you have an adequate supply of flea, tick and heartworm preventative on hand. If you don’t, contact your veterinarian and stock up so you don’t run out.


Go through the pet’s pantry

Check for expired canned-foods and treats. Now is also a good time to make note of food and treats your pet does love and restock. Don’t forget to wash the bowls and dining area of your pet!


Restock first aid kit

A first aid kit should include hydrogen peroxide and antibacterial ointment among other items. Replace any missing or expired items so you’re prepared for the warmer days ahead!


Use natural cleaning solutions

As you’re cleaning other areas in your home, remember to keep toxic supplies and chemicals well out of reach of your pet. Consider using natural cleaning solutions like baking soda or vinegar and water. Call your vet or the Animal Poison Hotline right away if you suspect your pet has ingested any toxic or potentially toxic substance. Animal Poison Hotline: 1-888-232-8870 ($35.00 charge per incident). The Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Scoop the poop

If you have a backyard where your dog gets to roam freely, do a thorough clean up of the feces before you take that lawnmower to the grass and cause yourself quite the mess and stress of a clean up.

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Easter and Springtime Hazards for Dogs and Cats

Easter and springtime decorations (and edibles) liven the scenery, but also pose a potential hazard to pets. Who knew that plastic Easter grass could be dangerous, even deadly?

With spring comes spring cleaning and surveying the area for any potential hazards to your pets. It's better than the alternative of spending time and money at the veterinary hospital. Here are a few tips to help your clean up.

Easter Lily (and related Lily plants)


The Easter Lily is a common finding this time of year. This plant, and related plants in the lily family, are highly toxic to cats if ingested.


The first signs seen are vomiting and lethargy, and if untreated, may progress to kidney (renal) failure and death. Please call your veterinarian immediately if you suspect that your cat has eaten any part of a lily plant.


Another spring flower often used in cut flower arrangements, daffodils, are also toxic to cats.

For a more in-depth look on plant toxicity, read our article.


Easter Grass (or multi-colored tinsel)


Stringy things like Easter grass or tinsel at Christmas, pose a deadly threat if ingested, creating something called a Linear Foreign Body.


The first noticeable signs, aside from the material being visible from the mouth or anus, are vomiting or straining to defecate and a painful abdomen.

!IMPORTANT! Trying to pull out visible grass or string is not recommended, as this can cause more damage if the piece is long and trapped far inside the body. Call your veterinarian if you suspect that your cat has sampled the Easter grass. While Linear Foreign Bodies are more common in cats, dogs may also ingest non-food material, and the same rules apply.



This is typically more of a dog hazard, as many dogs have a sweet tooth, a great nose, and the determination to find chocolate — hidden or not, but cats may consume chocolate too.

The toxic components in chocolate are theobromine and caffeine, and the level of toxicity is based on the type and quantity of chocolate consumed. Different types of chocolate have different amounts of theobromine and caffeine; dark chocolate contains the highest concentrations and white "chocolate" contains the least.


Early clinical signs are vomiting, diarrhea and trembling.

It is important to note that xylitol, an artificial sweetener used in many candies, chewing gums and baked goods, is potentially very toxic to dogs and ferrets.

For a more in-depth look on chocolate toxicity, read our article.

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