Leishmaniasis

So, I heard about Leishmaniasis from an online forum and decided to look into it. 

It’s a nasty disease primarily caught by dogs, but humans can contract it too. It occurs after the bite of a Sandfly, which is a type of mosquito maybe a third the size of a normal mosquito. The first early sign might be lesions on the dogs skin. If your dog has lesions get it to a vet for a check.

I found lots of info online but it was all conflicting so I rang my vet and we had a long discussion about it. Apparently Leishmaniasis can result in death in many dogs, but with early intervention death can be prevented. However it is incurable, so any dog that contracts it will suffer throughout it’s life and need permanent medication.

There is a collar called Scalibor which apparently is the only one that is effective in putting off the sandfly from biting. So as a deterrent it’s about 80% effective. You can also get your dog vaccinated. This means an initial injection, then 2 more at 3 week intervals. They’re best done from being a pup but can be done effectively at any time. There is an annual booster too. The vaccination is also about 80% effective against contracting the disease should the dog be bitten, so there is no guaranteed drug that can eliminate the possibility of being bitten or infected. 

The general advice is that Leishmaniasis is more prevalent along the mediterranean corridor, so Spain (where I’m headed next) is a risk. Generally speaking warmer countries and those further east have more risk, and that risk is high from May to October. 

Sandflies are active from dusk til dawn, mostly outside but not in wind or rain. So generally speaking if you keep the dog indoors from dusk til dawn between May and October, and the dog has a collar and has been vaccinated, you are doing pretty much everything you can to limit the risk.

You can read some general stuff about Leishmaniasis here.

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Bye bye Frontline

The biggest tick I've ever seen.
A normal sized tick and a huge one that I got out of Jack’s ears.

Whilst in France recently I stopped in a layby to make tea and Jack went outside to play. He came back with 3 ticks, one of them the most enormous I’ve ever seen. He’s Frontlined regularly so I was unsure how this could happen so I went to consult a vet. Apparently Frontline no longer works effectively according to the French vet, and a Seresto collar is much cheaper and lasts for up to 8 months at a time for €32.

When I got back to the UK I checked all of this out and apparently there is also an Seresto tablet. However the tablet does not stop ticks biting it only puts them off once they have. The collar actually prevents them biting in the first place. The UK vet also charged £32 so I got one there and then.

Mind you if you don’t travel outside the UK Frontline may still be effective for you. Jack has never had a tick or flea since we started using it. But it is massively expensive!

Seresto collar
Seresto collar

The other thing to consider is Leishmaniasis. This is an infection after being bitten by a sand fly and is currently incurable in dogs, While manageable, it can easily lead to death in some dogs. Scalibor is currently the only collar that prevents sand fly bites and it’s relatively cheap at about £17 for a collar that lasts about 6 months. As we’re headed off to Spain and Portugal where most sand flies are prevalent I’ll be getting Jack one before we leave.

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Mr Ratty goes to heaven (Some might find the images in this post disturbing)

We’re walking by the river Nith in Dumfries when Jack starts digging in some bush at the base of a tree. He was intent so I knew he smelled an animal, and thinking about the floods on Sunday, I thought perhaps a  rat or other river creature.

Dumfries in flood
Dumfries in flood

He must have dug for about 10 minutes or so, on a 5 m leash as I watched buses go by, watched a Heron on the river and basically let him have his fun. Suddenly a rat zoomed out from the base of the tree and scurried off along the wall and behind a litter bin. As Jack was on his leash I had to run to let him keep up.

But when we got to the bin there was no sign of it. We walked along the path a few feet and I tried to get Jack interested in another bush at the base of another tree, thinking it may have taken refuge there, but he wasn’t having it. He wanted to be back at the bin. So we went back and I pulled it out and leaned it over and showed him there was no rat behind it. Suddenly, up it pops on the inside of the bin, clinging to the side of the metal insert and glaring at me. The bin had gaps underneath so the sneaky creature managed to get in one and go inside the bin itself and of course, to utter safety.

So I’m trying to convince Jack he has no chance when the stupid rat, seeing him standing up and peering through the litter box, runs back down the bin and out the hole in the bottom and runs off up the path again! Madness, suicide, Jack was on it like a car bonnet! lol

Jack with his latest kill

For some unknown reason he didn’t do his normal ‘bite and shake’ kill maneouver, where he bites them hard round the neck and shakes them to snap their neck. No, he bit it to death. Simply stood there biting it hard til it stopped flopping. I’ve never seen him do that before.

There was quite a lot of blood and looking at the splatter I’m sure it’s Jack’s. I suspected it had managed to bite his dewlap or nose, so we went straight back to the van where I cleaned him off, and remembered there was  a vet about 5 minutes walk away. However when I got him cleaned up there wasn’t  a mark on him, so I will keep an eye just in case infection starts, but it seems he got off with it.

Here’s an interesting fact: In the US last year, cats killed approximately 1.6 Billion small mammals. It’s actually becoming a problem as so many little things are being killed that numbers are down. The massive number is said to be due to the increase in domestic cat ownership. I hope most of those are rats 🙂

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Ticked off!!

Ticks on Jack's nose
Ticks on Jack’s nose

Jack has been chasing wild rabbits for days. He’s not even come close to catching one, but not for lack of effort.  He’s loved the exercise and I’ve loved seeing him happy and doing what he’s supposed to do. However the downside is that he has caught dozens of ticks 🙁

I’ve twice laid him on the sofa and spent around an hour and a half taking them out one by one. I stopped counting at 63 in the first session. Some of them are so small it’s unreal. I used a close-up lens to show this little lot grouped around his whiskers. You can see the small white dots. There’s also black ones and the odd red one. Presumably they’re at different stages of feeding?

Now if you’ve got good eyes you’ll spot around 2 dozen in this picture.  I didn’t imagine ticks could be so small and that’s the time consuming part of it, finding them all then being able to actually get a hold of them with the tick puller. Some were right in the base of his whiskers and they really took some digging out. The trick is in not tearing off the small tubes they insert into his skin to feed with, but in spinning the ticks body to ensure the tubes slide out complete. Leaving bits of insect in his skin can lead to infection I read. So I’m really careful as I don’t want more vets bills!

Whether the ticks are to blame for his missing whiskers I don’t know. I’d not noticed any missing before now. I doubt it as all ticks do is feed on blood and spread disease. A woman I know has Lyme’s disease as a result of a tick. I’ve checked myself over and luckily I don’t have any.

Yes Jack has been Front-lined. I’m guessing that when you have your face stuck in the entrance to a wild rabbit warren several times an evening there’s nothing that’s going to be effective against them, but I can’t wait for them to drop out, and have ticks all over the van. Yuk!

More ticks on Jack's nose
More ticks on Jack’s nose

This photo clearly shows a black one as well as a white one. I assume the black ones have fed and the white ones haven’t?

These ones are easier to see as the hairs on his snout are so short.  I found some on the base of his foot behind his pad, on his testicle, in the folds of his ears and one sneaky one that I missed at first as it was attached so close to his nipple.  I’m fairly certain that there will be some I’ve missed despite dedication to the task of cleaning my little man up, so I dug the Bob Martin tick spray out and soaked Jack where his fur is longest, at the back of his neck. Oddly, I’ve not got one from there yet and my guess is ticks might like short hair so they can get to the skin easily?

I think I’m gonna Frontline Jack again anyway and check him every other day for more, in case there’s hatchlings or the odd one I missed.

What I’d like to know is, what useful purpose do ticks actually serve? None? Thought not. So come on scientists … develop a poison and eradicate them from earth! One of the benefits of being top of the food chain should be getting to choose who stays and who goes!

The last photo below shows half a dozen of the little buggers hiding in his eyebrows. One was almost in his eye!

Ticks on Jack's eyebrow
Ticks on Jack’s eyebrow

 

Jack laid there, either laid out on his belly, flat on his back or on his side jammed in between me and the cushion so I could easily get at them, without so much as a whimper. He went to sleep mostly while I got on with the task, letting me check between his toes and completely unflinching even when I was taking them from his eyebrows.

He’s the best dog ever and he earned himself some chewy dog choc for being such a brave little soldier 🙂

Update**

Apparently Frontline lasts for 3 months. Yep … Jack was done over 3 months ago! Duh at me.

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Pet Passport

Jack's passport
Jack’s passport

So, for Jack to come abroad with me he needs his very own passport! The vet is of course sorting it all out, he needs a rabies jab, and then a blood test to ensure that the jab developed all the necessary rabies neutralising antibody tire was measurable at the correct rate. He also got chipped the day of the jab.

Everything in cost me £84. This lasts for 3 years now so hopefully we’ll be off soon to France. 

In order to return, we need to get tick treatment and a worming pill from a vet and then we have to wait 24 hours before we can return to the UK. If we wait longer than 120 hours however we have to get the test done again. 

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Welcome Jack :)

Dog stands by lake watching swans
Jack swanning about

Jack seems to have taken to life in the van as if he was born to it, (which he almost was!) and he appears to be content. He’s playing  a lot, sleeping even more, and chewing me loads! I’ve been to get him chipped by  vet in Skelton, who didn’t even have a debit card machine and sent me off to the post office to get some cash. I told him the lifestyle I lead living in my van and traveling here and there, he stated he could see no harm that would come to the dog and then started the long process of inoculations, checks, worming etc etc that a new puppy has to go through.

Once that was all complete I decided to have the weekend in Ullswater as it’s one of my favourite places. I parked in Glenridding and took Jack to the lake for his first visit. As you can see, his instincts are all in place. I was not sure whether he wanted to play with the swans or eat them, although the swans seemed sure of the latter so they stayed a healthy distance away.

Must get rid of that awful collar. I’ve never understood how people can try and control animals with a thing round their neck. I’d like a decent harness for him.
As you can see below he’s not frightened either! He loves people and other dogs, he’s just so sociable. He’s settling in nicely too, I don’t think I’m going to regret getting him.

Jack meets a Jack Russell and makes friends
Jack making friends
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If only I had a fence…

I’ve been thinking about getting a dog for a long time, what breed I would get, what size, if it would be healthy traveling in the van, loads of issues to consider. I started ringing around rescue centres to find out what kind of small dogs they had.

I found  a pattern amongst all of them: they require you to have a fenced in garden of  a certain size, or they won’t let you have a dog. Obviously that precludes me instantly, living in a motorhome as I do. So I decided to explain to a few of them why I did not have a fence, and I was astonished that 1 woman went to get her manager, who when I explained I lived in a motorhome, began to laugh and said no way would she let a dog live under those conditions.

I understand that they want to ensure their dogs go to good homes, but a good home is not necessarily measured by having a garden fence. I think that’s a silly rule with no real thought given to it.
So I’ve decided to go to the breeder in Cartmel where my boss bought hers from. He breeds Patterdale Terriers and I’ve decided it’s the perfect sort of dog to live the life I do.

I’ll keep you posted.

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