Tips to Help Prevent Lyme Disease in Horses

Iamge of Blacklegged ticks or Deer Ticks

Image of Blacklegged ticks or Deer Ticks from

This past Saturday, March 15, 2014 Amesbury Animal Hospital hosted a Equine Event on two topics, “Nutrition for the Aging Horse” and Dr Kirk Smith gave a lecture on “Lyme Disease”.

In this article I want to share what my take is on the discussion of Lyme disease. In one word “Prevention”. Lyme disease in horses is difficult to diagnose and can be easily misdiagnosed. Perhaps your horse is stiff or slightly off, has low energy levels and a cranky attitude. Yes, this could be many things and one of them is lyme disease.

One of the most useful tips I learned is using fly spray – BEFORE FLY SEASON.  Dr. Smith mentioned that tick season starts in April and although I start treating my dog with Frontline in March (some dog owners treat year round) I don’t usually use fly spray on my horses until…well…fly season.

Dr Smith mentioned  that treatment during non-fly season is probably only needed on the bottom half of your horse, legs, belly, etc. Because I have a small property my horses are not put out to graze so I will most likely only use spray when I’m out riding.  My farm is located on the marshlands so we use perimeter sprays to help with ticks and mosquitoes (I wont even talk about greenheads…ouch).

Someone at the event inquired about what spray to use and if it was possible to just utilize a product normally used on people. What I got out of it… No, not a great idea. As a long time horse person I know most of us have our favorite sprays and they are all expensive (Pyranha, Ultra Shield, Repel-X, Equi-spot).

What we use at my farm…Because we treat our property with a fogging machine we buy a one gallon bottle of a concentrated permethrin (36.8% permethrin) which can be purchased at Dodges Agway in NH. It’s expensive at anywhere  from $90.00 to $140.00. We found it online for $90.00. We use this for both perimeter spray and a horse spray. (We have a Skin So Soft solution for greenhead season). There are specific instructions on the container for correct measurements to mix for spraying on animals. (one gallon lasts us at least a year)

For all of you that prefer the natural way. We tried that first but the bug population here is just so high. The property is kept as clean and dry as possible (stone dust turnouts, no standing water, etc).  We have bat houses and tried Guinea Hens (bats eat mosquito’s and guinea hens eat ticks and bugs off the ground). I’ve tried the foulest smelling “natural” fly sprays to no avail and I’ve heard quite a few horror stories about horses having reactions to untested natural products. (I’m still open to any suggestions)

Another major preventative measure is to simply check for ticks after a ride . Luckily for me they are easy to spot on my Palomino and even with fly spray on I’ve plucked a few off. A tick needs to be attached (engorged) for a 24 hour period to transfer the bacterium that causes the disease. So doing a quick check could save you and your horse from lyme disease.

Please note that I do not claim to be an expert on this. I am simply sharing what I’ve learned over the years and at the Equine Event compliments of Dr Smith of Amesbury Animal Hospital. The pest control measures I take are what works for me on my farm in Newbury, MA and I’m sure different areas have varied needs. Please feel free to share your thoughts on prevention and/or pest control.



Our Favorite Places for Walking Dogs in the Newburyport Area

Dog Walking in The Newburyport Area…

I enjoy walking my dog clients right in my own neighborhood which has a nice trail protected by the Essex County Green Belt Association. Anne happily conducts her beach walks during off season or along private beach areas year round. However, sometimes we venture off to local park areas and we would like to share a few of our favorites…

Walking your Dog at Maudslay State Park, Newburyport, MA

Maudslay is not only one of my favorite spots for walking dogs but it’s my number one favorite place to ride  my horse. There is plenty of parking and bathroom facilities. There is a small fee ($2.00) for parking but well worth the convenience of facilities and a well kept trail system.

Keep your dogs on a leash and please watch out for mountain bikers and horseback riders, especially around blind corners. The park offers a easy to navigate trail systems that is relatively flat with small hills. You can usually find a supply of trail maps just inside the parking area.

Situated along the Merrimack River, this park features beautiful gardens and plantings with masses of azaleas and rhododendrons that bloom in May and June. The park is a nesting ground for the bald eagles and some trails are closed during nesting season.

My personal favorite trail, Pasture Trail and the Mile Circle,  veers off to the left as you enter the park. It will take you through a rolling meadow, past a stone bridge, through the rhododendrons and past beautiful river views.


Click here to visit the Maudslay State Park Website


Walking your Dog on Old Town Hill:
Newman Rd, Newbury, MA

There is no leash law in Newbury, MA but it’s best to keep your dog  on a leash. It’s a nice hike but since it borders the salt marshes you should avoid the area during “greenhead season” when pesky biting flies are out. Usually around the first 2 weeks of July.

There is limited parking. There is a small area but it fills quickly on nice days.

Owned by the Trustees of Reservations, Old Town Hill offers the nature lover a chance to walk to the top of a wooded glacial drumlin and explore the edge of a broad salt marsh. It’s a very quiet area with a good combination of coastal birds, inland birds, and wild mammals. Here’s a hike where the road leading to the reservation is worth the trip in itself. Newman Road is a New England country lane in the truest sense; farms, fields, woodlands, pastures, and giant maples line the east end of the road, making it a perfect place to go for a stroll. Farther down Newman Road to the west, you will pass through a beautiful marshy area that drains into the Parker River; it’s a good place to bring the binoculars and do some birding. Highlights: Hilltop view, salt marsh, good birding.

Click here to visit the website of the trustees of Old Town Hill

Take Your Dog for a Walk on Newburport’s Clipper City Rail Trail

The first phase of the Clipper City Rail Trail was completed in 2010, and is a 1.1 mile multi-use pathway running between the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) commuter rail station and the shoreline of the Merrimack River near downtown Newburyport. The trail corridor ranges from about 40 to 80 feet wide, and the multi-use asphalt pathway is 10 feet wide for walkers, bicyclists, and other non-motorized users. In a relatively short distance, the trail corridor cuts through hills and climbs above the harbor, passing through a variety of environments including an industrial park, a densely developed neighborhood, and the waterfront. An 8-foot-wide pile-supported boardwalk made of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified tropical hardwood connects the Rail Trail to Cashman Park along the river. There are a number of stairway and spur trail connections to side streets, as well as amenities such as Haley’s Ice Cream and the Graf Ice Skating Rink, and various bakeries, coffee shops, and restaurants are located a short distance from the trail. Two public schools located nearby, the River Valley Charter School and the Molin School, regularly use the trail for students and teachers to walk to the downtown, the harbor, parks, and other destinations. The Rail Trail has a distinct and attractive character due in large part to the extensive public art the City has installed along the corridor.

Check out this video of the Clipper City Rail Trail

Beach Walks on Plum Island

Dogs are not allowed on Plum Island beach (on the tip of the island) from Memorial Day through Labor Day but it’s a popular spot to walk during the off season. Dogs are not allowed on the National Wildlife Refuge year round.

Below is  a List of Off-Leash Dog Parks in Newburyport, MA published on in January, 2014


Dog Walking in Downtown Newburyport

Walking around town is a great way to see downtown Newburyport and bringing your four legged friend along makes it even better. You can park at the NRA East lot stroll the waterfront boardwalk up through the waterfront park and into town. Be sure to bring along the all important poop bags as laws are strictly enforced. Although stores do not allow pets you’ll find that many of these pet friendly establishments leave a fresh bowl of water out for visitors.


City of Newburyport Off-Leash Dog Parks

The City Health Department/Animal Control Division would like to extend a reminder of the Off-Leash Dog Park locations, hours and rules to all residents and users of the parks. Please see the list below of Off-Leash areas and their hours. The rules are the same for each area.

Cashman Park

o Hours: 7:30 AM – 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Moseley Woods

o Hours: Dawn – 10:30 AM and 4:00 PM – Dusk

March’s Hill

o Hours: Dawn – 10:30 AM and 4:00 PM – Dusk

Off-Leash Area Rules:

(e) The following rules apply to the use of designated off leash areas: Owners, per the below rules, define persons with direct care, custody, and control of a dog while in a designated off leash area.

(1) Dogs must be licensed and vaccinated as required by applicable law and ordinance (this is the case for both leashed and off leash dogs) and have no contagious conditions, diseases or parasites.

(2) Dogs must be leashed when entering and when exiting a designated off leash area.

(3) Dogs with a history of dangerous or aggressive behavior, e.g. history of dog fights or aggression toward people as determined by the animal control officer, are prohibited from designated off leash areas during designated off leash times.

(4) Dogs younger than four (4) months of age are not allowed off leash as all inoculations are incomplete at this age.

(5) Intact unleashed male dogs must be supervised closely and immediately removed or leashed if interfering with other dogs.

(6) Female dogs in season/heat are not allowed off leash in designated off leash areas.

(7) Owners must immediately remove from designated off leash areas dogs who are exhibiting aggressive behavior towards people, other dogs or wildlife.

(8) While in designated off leash areas, owners must remain with and monitor their dogs.

(9) Owners must carry a leash, one leash per dog is required.

(10) Owners must have in their possession an adequate number of bags, or other appropriate device, e.g. a pooper scooper, in their possession for removal of their dogs’ waste.

(11) Owners must clean up after their dogs, owners who fail to do so are subject to a fine in accordance with applicable law and ordinances. This is the case for both leashed and off leash dogs.

(12) No digging is allowed. Owners must fill in any holes dug by their dogs.

(13) No owner shall have more than two (2) unleashed dogs in a designated off leash area at any one time.

(14) Off leash dogs are not allowed in playgrounds, tennis courts, basketball courts and athletic fields.

(15) Owners in violation of above rules shall be subject to a fine of fifty dollars ($50.00).

If an emergency situation occurs, please contact the Animal Control Officer or the Police Department.

Please be cognizant of the park rules and considerate of other park users while using the off-leash areas. Be advised that these areas are monitored on a daily basis to ensure compliance of these rules. Residents with further questions regarding the Off-Leash Dog Parks can contact Mr. Robert F. Bracey, Director of Public Health or Mr. Matthew J. Lipinski, Regional Animal Control Officer at the City Health Department at (978)465-4410.


How to Clean a Dogs Ears

Cleaning a Dogs Ears

Cleaning a Dogs Ears

Although a dog’s ears need to be regularly monitored for his entire life, a little basic maintenance is generally all that’s required to keep them clean and healthy.

Canine Anatomy

Because of the twisty, curvy design of a dog’s inner ears, it’s easy for parasites, bacteria and yeast to hide and thrive in them. This also means that any debris in the canal must work its way up to escape. Infections can result from trapped debris. Dogs with allergies are particularly vulnerable, as are those with floppy ears, like Cocker spaniels, basset hounds and poodles.

Routine Care

Your dog’s regular grooming/maintenance routine should include regular ear checks. This is especially important for dogs who produce excessive earwax or have a lot of inner-ear hair:

  • If your dog’s inner ears appear dirty, clean them with a cotton ball dampened with mineral oil, hydrogen peroxide or a solution formulated specifically for this purpose. Inner-ear skin is delicate, so allow your vet to demonstrate the proper method for cleaning your dog’s ears.
  • Do not clean your dog’s ears so frequently or deeply as to cause irritation, and take care to NEVER insert anything into your dog’s ear canal.
  • If your dog sprouts hair from his ear canal, you or your groomer may have to tweeze it out every few weeks to prevent problematic mats and tangles from forming. Please discuss with your vet whether this is necessary for your dog.

Wet Behind the Ears?

If you’re not careful, frequent bathing and swimming can lead to irritation and infection. To prevent this from happening, place cotton in your dog’s ears before baths, and be sure to dry her ears as thoroughly as you safely can after all water sports and activities.

If your dog is prone to ear infections, you might want to pour a tiny amount of an ear drying solution made for dogs into her ear canals to help evaporate any water trapped inside. These ear washes, usually witch hazel-based, are available at better pet supply stores.

Danger Signs

Contact your veterinarian if you notice any of the following symptoms affecting your dog’s ears:

  • Ear discharge
  • Bad smells
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Crusty skin
  • Hair loss

Please also be aware that brown or black ear wax—and dry, dark wax resembling coffee grounds—are classic indicators of microscopic ear mites. Only your vet can tell for sure, so please don’t delay bringing a gooey-eared pooch in for a checkup.

Article courtesy of the ASPCA – Originally posted at…

10 Things Not to Feed Your Dog or Cat


Ten Things Not To Feed Your Dog Or Cat

I got this list from our pet sitting insurance company and thought I’d share it…

Nellie Playing with a Stick

Nellie Playing with a Stick

10 things not to feed your dog:

  1. Chocolate, tea, coffee, caffeine – these foods and drinks contain substances that can cause severe or even fatal heart or nervous system problems and should never be given.
  2. Grapes, raisins or currants – contain an unknown toxin that can cause kidney failure.
  3. Xylitol containing gum or candy – can cause severe low blood sugar or liver failure.
  4. Garlic, onion, or chives – contain a substance that can cause anemia. This includes garlic and onion powder in prepared foods.
  5. Corn on the cob – pieces of the cob can be swallowed and cause a bowel obstruction.
  6. Bones that splinter or can be swallowed – certain bones can cause lacerations to the mouth or digestive tract or cause obstruction.
  7. Raw eggs – contain an enzyme in the egg white called Avidin, which prevents the absorption of a B-Vitamin called biotin which can lead to skin and hair coat problems.
  8. Avocado – contain a substance called Persin, which causes vomiting and diarrhea.
  9. Liver – when fed in large quantities causes Vitamin A toxicity causing bone and muscle problems.
  10. Fish – raw, canned or cooked when fed exclusively or in large quantities a Thiamine deficiency leading to anorexia, seizures, an in severe cases death.

10 things not to feed your cat:

  1. Chocolate, coffee, tea or caffeine -for the same reason as dogs.
  2. Canned tuna for human consumption and raw fish – when fed exclusively or in high amounts can cause thiamine deficiency similar to dogs.
  3. Grapes, raisins, or currants – same as dogs
  4. Nuts – some nuts like macadamia nuts contain an unknown toxin causing intestinal, nervous system or muscle problems. Also if swallowed can cause a bowel obstruction.
  5. Xylitol gum or candy – same as dogs
  6. Baby food – many times contain onion powder, which can cause anemia when fed exclusively for in large quantities. Also is not completely balanced for a cat.
  7. Onions and Garlic raw, cooked or powder – contain sulfoxides and disulfides which cause anemia. Cats are more sensitive than dogs, and onion is more toxic than garlic.
  8. Dog food – if fed repeatedly causes taurine deficiency, which can cause malnutrition and heart disease.
  9. Bones – can cause obstruction or lacerations of the digestive system.
  10. Raw meat – may contain ecoli or salmonella causing diarrhea or vomiting.

Many of the foods listed can be used occasionally or as part of a balanced diet, but if not using a commercially prepared diet consult your veterinarian or an animal nutritionist.

Cold Weather Tips for your Pets from the ASPCA


DSC00889Brrrr—it’s cold outside! The following guidelines will help you protect your companion animals when the mercury dips.

Keep your cat inside. Outdoors, felines can freeze, become lost or be stolen, injured or killed. Cats who are allowed to stray are exposed to infectious diseases, including rabies, from other cats, dogs and wildlife.

During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars.

When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.

Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm, dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags.

Thoroughly wipe off your dog’s legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice. Morton Pet-Safe Ice Melt

Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk. Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.

Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.

Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train him inside. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself.

Does your dog spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities? Increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him, and his fur, in tip-top shape.

Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center more information.

Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.


Complete pet care when you can't be there. Serving Newbury, Newburyport, Rowley and Plum Island, MA Phone 978.204.5519