Don't get ticked at ticks—get even

Don't get ticked at ticks—get even

Year-round prevention efforts are key in keeping ticks and Lyme disease at bay.
Jun 01, 2009
By staff

Dr. Fred Metzger, DABVP, started finding ticks in February this year. The owner of Metzger Animal Hospital in State College, Pa., knows that ticks are a big problem in his part of the country—but he's never seen it this bad. In Dr. Metzger's 23 years of practice, the last 10 have been among the worst for ticks, and each year is worse than the one before, he says.


The good news is that Dr. Metzger's clients are aware of the tick problem and they know that these nasty critters can spread Lyme disease. At Metzger Animal Hospital, it's a standard of care to test every dog for Lyme disease, whether it's an indoor-only dog or not. And his compliance rate is high: about 95 percent, he estimates.

Dr. Metzger uses a simple in-house test that requires only a few drops of a pet's blood. In addition to Lyme disease, the test also detects heartworm infection, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis. Dr. Metzger and his team test patients every year as part of these pets' wellness visits.

It's also Dr. Metzger's standard of care to vaccinate all dogs at risk for Lyme disease. And at his practice, that includes any dog who visits wooded areas or spends significant time outdoors. He also communicates to clients about the vaccine's effectiveness. "I tell the client about our experiences with the vaccine in other patients and that my four dogs are vaccinated," Dr. Metzger says.

He's never seen a clinical Lyme disease case in any previously vaccinated patient. "The Lyme vaccine is an important tool in the prevention of the disease in at-risk patients," he says. In addition to the blood test and the vaccine, Dr. Metzger recommends a year-round topical preventive to fight fleas and ticks.

To be sure he really sends a message about ticks and Lyme disease, Dr. Metzger uses interactive devices that display informative videos in every exam room. (For more on Dr. Metzger's client communication strategies, see "How I wow clients" at, or read the article in the March 2009 issue of Veterinary Economics.) His clients love using the technology to stay up to date on the latest information about tick-borne diseases.


By taking a year-round approach to battling ticks, Dr. Metzger knows he's doing what he can to help his patients stay healthy. If a client doesn't opt for a year-round approach, he starts the pet on a preventive in March or early April at the latest, and keeps the pet on it for at least six months. This at least protects the pet up until the season ends—a season that, to Dr. Metzger, seems to be getting longer and longer.

Hot topics on dvm360

Dog of Dallas Ebola patient will not be euthanized, authorities say

Health officials have quarantined and will monitor dog and amid concerns surrounding deadly virus.

Video: How to perform a belt-loop gastropexy

Prevent GDV in your at-risk patients with this simple technique.

Stretch your skills to earn more in veterinary practice

Finding new tasks could be the key to generating more income for your practice—and boosting your pay.

Veterinary community stunned by Sophia Yin's unexpected death

Prominent veterinary behaviorist died of suicide Sept. 28.

Study shows sustained salary slump for veterinary support staff

Since 2009, technicians paid by the hour have experienced a bump in pay, but pay for other team members has stayed stagnant, according to data from the 2014 Firstline Career Path Study. Here’s a look at changes in team pay from 2009 to 2013.