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Heartworm Meds & SHTF

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Our dogs are on monthly heartworm meds. Our vet will sell us a one year supply once each year after the dogs have undergone a heartworm test. So, for one month out of each year, I have a one year supply on hand, and I end up with a one month supply, or none, by the time the dogs are back at the vet in the spring for their annual test.


Our vet WILL NOT sell us any extra heartworm meds as a SHTF prep. Absolutely WILL NOT do it.


So, what do you do? Is your vet more prep-minded than ours? Have you found a source for the meds other than your vet that allows you to stock up? Do you plan on resorting to herbs? If so, which ones? My herbal research leads me to feel that herbal remedies for heartworm prevention would not be a good choice.


When I was a child, heartworms had not yet made it this far north. But they have been in our area for many years, and so we have to prep for that too, IF we can.


I'd appreciate hearing what you all do about this vexing issue.

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I did an internet search and found a supplier in Canada that did not require me to have a prescription. I purchased 6 months worth of HeartSmart for less than $30. Don't know if that helps or not but there it is . . . .

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Nifty, Susan! Can you find that link again? All that I have found require a prescription.

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Thank you for the link! I don't have a pet yet but when I do get another one, I'll be ordering extra heartworm meds because I live in mosquito country.


I bookmarked that one for sure. bow

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Cowgirl, the Heartgard brand is good for 6 weeks. I would not give them every 4 weeks. That would save you some... looking for the link to the vet that suggested this... hmmm... here it is... Also, try getting a prescription and buying it from petmeds or KV Vet Supply, or other vet supply catalog.


My mainstream vet, whom I used to work for, is a national chain. Even they are starting to recommend an altered vaccination and heartworm medication schedule. All my vaccines have been extended to be given less frequently.


Help Your Pets Fight Heartworm Safely




By Steve Brown and Beth Taylor


Minimizing toxins is one of the foundations of our "Live Longer" program in which we use only those medications, preventatives and treatments that are most useful and necessary. With careful evaluation, some "approved toxins" may be avoided. Medications are by their nature toxic to certain organisms, and often have serious short- or long-term side effects for our pets.


That said, sometimes chemicals are necessary to save lives. The chemicals used to prevent heartworm are extremely effective and can save dogs from difficult, unpleasant and potentially dangerous treatment. However, many veterinarians recommend treatment schedules which result in far greater quantities of toxic chemicals being ingested by dogs than is really necessary or even advised by the American Heartworm Society (AHS).


Consider these easy steps you can follow to minimize the amount of medication you give your pets.


The Heartworm Season Varies By Climate


The transmissibility season for heartworm is determined by temperature. In order for the larvae of the heartworm, carried by mosquitoes, to be transmitted to a dog, the temperature must be at least 60 degrees for a month.


For example, the heartworm season in Florida will be quite long. In fact, it might make sense to give preventative treatments year-round there.


In Chicago, however, the temperature necessary for transmission of heartworm is not usually reached at night until June. The beginning of the season is not likely to be earlier than June 1 in most years, and perhaps later, even though mosquitoes may be present. Temperatures begin to drop at night by September. And, the season will certainly be over the next month, although you may still see mosquitoes.


Preventatives Kill Heartworm Larvae


The chemicals used to control heartworm are called preventatives, but when we use them, we are actually treating larvae. Think of it this way: The chemicals kill the larvae your dog may have picked up in the period since the last dosage.


The drugs you can use include daily doses of Diethylcarbamazine Citrate (DEC) or monthly doses of Ivermectin (Heartgard or Iverheart), Milbemycin (Interceptor) or and Selamectin (Revolution). A six-month treatment (Proheart) was pulled from the market last year after numerous adverse effects, including deaths, were reported.


The daily preventative (DEC) is not easy to find since the introduction of Ivermectin and other monthly treatments. Nevertheless, it is quite effective and many feel that it is easier on their bodies. However, if DEC is given to a dog that is already heartworm-positive, anaphylactic shock may result. That's why completing a heartworm test prior to giving any medication is imperative.


There are two other issues that motivate us to keep using "monthly" preventatives versus daily medication.


For one, some dogs stash pills away in their mouths and dispose of them where you can't see them. Be sure the dog is swallowing them (as we learned when Steve discovered a cache of pills behind a chair). Heartworm medication must be swallowed to be effective! Fortunately, Steve's dog, Garbo, didn't contract heartworm.


The other drawback to daily preventatives is humans must remember to give them! Missing doses may result in infections. This is how two of our dogs contracted heartworm. While May survived the arduous treatment, her brother was blinded. Too bewildered to make the adjustment, he was soon euthanized.


Though that was long ago, treatment protocols have improved vastly, but can still be very toxic to your animals. We prefer providing regular oral preventative medication to the harsh reality of treating a heartworm-positive dog.


Monthly treatments are best kept as simple as possible. There are a number of options based on several chemicals. You have a choice of a pill (flavored or unflavored) or a topical treatment. And some are "multi-purpose" drugs.


We prefer dogs only receive medication that specifically prevents heartworm, rather than a silver bullet that treats everything. Some manufacturers formulate products that combine heartworm prevention with worming medication, flea, tick and mange medication, just in case your dog may encounter these parasites.


In our minds, that just-in-case scenario is not good enough to put a multitude of toxic chemicals into your dog's body. Plain Ivermectin (Heartguard) is the simplest choice, and the safest for most dogs, though certain breeds have shown some sensitivity to it. We recommend you discuss the least toxic options for your pet with your holistic veterinarian.


And, keep an eye on your dog for a while afterward to ensure your dog swallows her pill too! While it doesn't happen often, dogs occasionally vomit these pills.


When to Start and End Medication


To determine the best time to test for heartworm, read the guidelines posted on the AHS Web site. Each geographic area is different.


So, you've had your dog tested this spring, and she's clear of heartworms. How do you know when to start the preventative?


Heartworm is not transmissible from mosquitoes to dogs until the weather is quite settled and warm, and the medications work on larvae acquired after the season starts. The time to start recommended by the AHS is a month after the transmissibility season begins.


The chemicals used for monthly prophylaxis are effective for at least six weeks.


Many treatment protocols recommend one-month intervals year-round to account for missed doses and client (that's us!) unreliability. The concern of veterinarians that administration will be incomplete is certainly valid, because humans may fail to give sufficient attention to the right dates. However, it's easy enough to mark them on your calendar medication to save your dogs unnecessary chemical exposure.


Holistic veterinarians often recommend the first dose be given a month after the season begins (dealing with any larva which may have been acquired and allowing for a little overlap) and every six weeks after that, until the end of the season. The AHS recommends the last dose be given within a month after the season ends.


How many doses will your dog need? In a normal Chicago climate, four would do the trick (July 1 Aug. 15, Oct. 1 and Nov. 15). Even if you are extra conservative, no more than one more dose will be needed. If you start May 15, you'll end Oct. 1. Few Octobers in Chicago have nights above 64 degrees, but if this occurs, one more dose would be needed before the end of the season. Close attention to the weather, particularly night temperatures, will give you excellent information about when to start.


Protecting The Liver


Some concerned dog caretakers have sought out more holistic, natural options such as herbal or homeopathic remedies. If you don't want to use traditional heartworm medications, it's imperative your animals be under the care and supervision of a veterinarian with expertise in this area.


Holistic veterinarians often recommend herbal support for the liver following treatment. Chicago area holistic veterinarian Karen Shaw Becker suggests a daily dose of milk thistle for the week following each treatment. Milk thistle supports the liver as it metabolizes the medication and aids in the body's detoxification processes.


Our main goal is to minimize our animal's exposure to chemicals, including those used to prevent heartworm. We recommend supplying the smallest amount of drug that will do the job, for the shortest time period to be effective. This balance provides the best solution to a major health threat, with the minimum amount of medication, followed by appropriate detoxification.


Of course, the support of a whole food diet and an active and stimulating life will also help your dogs live long healthy lives too!


What About Cats?


In the past few years, veterinarians have begun to recommend that cats receive chemical preventatives for heartworm. This article is addresses heartworm prevention for dogs only. Cats are not the natural hosts of heartworm. In fact, the incidence of feline heartworm causing clinical disease is very low compared to dogs.


Still, bear in mind the actual risk your cat will encounter mosquitoes when making a decision about medication.



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Wow! Thanks for that link! Our vet claims that in our area (Central Illinois) dogs must be on monthly heartworm preventive year-round. That is a lot of money. But we have done it on her advice, as she is fairly well respected by a lot of people and I have trusted her.


Yeah, ME! TRUST! Someone in the medical profession! Will wonders never cease??? lol And look what happens when you do that? Lesson learned! wink


So, given this, I'm going to do some serious researching. The seasonal dosing makes sense to me. It is what we used to do anyway. And dosing every six weeks makes sense too, although I want to find more about that before I make the switch. I think I have suddenly found a way to stockpile a year's worth of meds without resorting to a Canadian import. laugh


THANK YOU!!!!!!!



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Okay, My vet said I could do heartworm meds on a seasonal basis, and that we didn't have to give it from December through March.


We had a major thaw this past January. My dog and a friend's dog both contracted tick-borne disease. Mine got Ehrlichosis and hers got lyme disease.


No more seasonal treatments here now.


Oh yeah, back to your original question -- can't you get them online?

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Originally Posted By: Tracie
Okay, My vet said I could do heartworm meds on a seasonal basis, and that we didn't have to give it from December through March.

We had a major thaw this past January. My dog and a friend's dog both contracted tick-borne disease. Mine got Ehrlichosis and hers got lyme disease.

No more seasonal treatments here now.

Oh yeah, back to your original question -- can't you get them online?

Ticks are active here whenever it is warm. I had the dogs vaccinated against Lyme disease, as even with monthly tick preventive one of them still got Ehrlichosis. And so, I figured I don't need them getting Lyme. But mosquitoes aren't flying and biting during January thaws here, so I think the previous seasonal protocol we were on was fine for heartworm prevention - the skeeters can't spread the disease when they are not flying and biting.

Yes, it would appear that I can get them online, without a prescription. Previously, the only sites I had found said that US citizens had to send them the prescription before they would send the heartworm medicine, but this one only requires that for the brand name meds, not the generics. Since I don't have a prescription, because I bought the meds from the vet, then I had only the one year supply.

Now, though, reading this, I am encouraged that I may already have a longer supply than I realized. I still might order some meds from the Canadian site, but I won't be ordering 12 months worth for each dog.

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anyone want to call me and take dictation? no? ok.. well, I will have to do this in sections.


go buy Injectable Ivomec or Ivomectin or Ivermec or Ivermection.. all the same.


DO NOT INJECT pet! they will take this orally!!!!!


NO COLLIE can take any Ivomec or generic!!! it will kill them! the same thing for cats.. NO CATS! It will kill your pet.


ok.. if in doubt about the above do NOT follow any of this post!


Give 1/10 of a cc per 10 pounds! less is ok. So if your pet is 35 pounds.. better to give 3/10 of a cc then trying to half or give more.


You will need to use a Syringe to draw out the ivomec. I use yogurt, ice cream, sour cream, milk or any thing that is really nummy and easy to mix. Squirt the ivomec on the cream.. give stir and let them have it.


Ivomec doesn't need to be refrigerated. It will run about $40 for a bottle. One bottle for 1 dog will last several years! Considering HeartGuard at $40 for 6 months... how can you go wrong?



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using heart worm meds on a dog NOT tested for the disease.


Usually the vet will test a dog for heart worm infestation. They will not give heart worm to a dog with worms! there is another therapy used... not fun.. about as much fun as chemo!


SO with that said... let me tell you what I was told.. have a very dear friend that is a vet tech. I trust her since she is up on all of the latest research...


Ivomec is being used on dogs with heart worms. The idea is by using a heart worm preventative it weakens the worms in the body. If ivomec is used every month.. in time the worms will weaken, not be able to reproduce and the dog will become heart worm free.


so there it is! Now remember that when the worms start to die, the dog will become ill. The reason is the dying bodies within his. This is a much gentle form of ridding heart worms then using the mainstream method of Strychnine therapy.



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Ivomec and other heart worm meds are for killing parasites.


Lyme's and Ehrlichiosis are bacteria,not parasites. They are caused by tick bites though there is some research being done to see if they might be mosquito borne also.


The only connection I can find on Ivomec and Lyme Disease is feeding it to deer to help control the tick. I found that exact same line posted again and again all over the net. Anyone who has done any research on Lymes or Ehrlichiosis will know that the deer is definitely not the only vector and that as of yet, they have not figured out how to control the spread of the disease.


Perhaps Ivomec or heart worm meds given to the dog might kill off the tick as it bites them and therefore help to control the tick population but I don't believe it will stop the bacteria from being spread. Someone correct me if I'm wrong on that.


They do have a vaccination for dogs for Lymes. They also have a vacine for humans but it is still unknown how many doses are needed and it's caused such a significant amount of problems in people that it's use is not reccomended unless the risk is very severe. It's my understanding that they are finding some of the same problems in dogs who are given the vacine though not nearly in the number as humans.


Westy, would it help to use less Ivomec to beging with to lesson the severity of the die off symptoms and work up to full dose? The die off would be similar to what happens when you are treated for Lyme Disease or even Candida. I know that drinking a lot of fluids helps with those. I wonder if there's a way to get dogs to drink more.


Good topic,


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Well, I am not sure about the safety of straight ivomec with my dog. He is a blue heeler, aka Australian cattle dog. I know that in his genetics, therefore, is some border collie type dog that the Aussies called the Smithfield. But there is also DINGO, and the rough coated collie was also in the mix (more collie). THEN there were more collies imported, these a smooth coated variety. Then there was an out-cross to bull terrier. And there was a dalmatian out-cross, and a kelpie out-cross. And ultimately the breed was standardized.


So, I have a dog with quite a bit of collie in his ancestry, but also dingos, bull terriers, dalmations, and kelpies.


I know back in the early days of using liquid ivomec, collie and collie derivative breeds died at an alarming rate. But I did not have a heeler back then, so I don't know if they have a problem.


MORE RESEARCH is in order, apparently!


That is good to know, however, for our other dogs.

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OK. Here's the scoop. I found an article about the genetic issue that makes some dogs susceptible to death with Ivermectin. Here's the full article if you want to read about the research:




The essential information from this article is that there is a genetic issue with certain breeds which makes them susceptible to ivermectin. The genetic issue is called "mdr deletion" and it has been found in TEN BREEDS. Not all dogs within a breed will carry it, and it varies within the breeds how many have this problem - a lot of collies do, but in some breeds less than 10% of the dogs are affected. If in doubt, have your dog tested before the SHTF - there is a test available.


Fortunately, it has never been found in Australian Cattle Dogs, so I'm relieved about that, given their strong collie lineage. It has been found in German Shepherd Dogs, which I find alarming since that is our other breed, but only in white ones so far (and they are not allowed so those breeders are off on their own creating a new breed). The 10 breeds in which it has been found so far are:


- collies


- Shetland sheepdog


- Old English sheepdog


- Australian shepherds


- miniature Australian shepherds


- English shepherds


- McNabs


- longhaired whippet


- silken windhound


- white German shepherd dogs

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The Lyme vaccination often gives a false positive, and Lyme disease is a self limiting illness in dogs. My vet won't even vaccinate any longer unless he is required to. I use nothing on my dogs, and we live in the woods. Not recommending it, just sharing my experiences. I use a tick comb to comb them out when we get back from a walk, and also use garlic in their food. Seems to help.


I'm not a vet, I'm only pre-vet in school, so do your own research. smile

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Lyme disease in dogs is not a minor disease. It commonly causes joint damage. If you have a working dog, Lyme disease could mean the end of his useful career, even if he "only" ends up with joint damage. In addition it can affect the heart muscle and cause permanent nerve damage.


In our geographic area, Lyme disease is prevalent enough to be a real concern. People in other areas might have zero concern, as Lyme disease may not be prevalent.


Deer ticks (which transmit Lyme disease) are so small, as compared to dog ticks, that they are sometimes hard to see on bare skin, let alone in a thick coat of fur. I have had them bite dogs that were on garlic, and had Frontline applied monthly, and that I use an herbal tick repellant on. We have a huge tick population in this area, and a huge deer population. As tiny as the ticks are, it would be very easy to miss a deer tick on a dog with a thick coat.


While no vaccine is 100% effective, we felt that Lyme disease vaccination was a good precaution to take with our dogs. We also continue to use Frontline, garlic, and check them for ticks.


Folks in areas without a real Lyme disease problem would probably not worry about the issue as much as we have to, where it is so prevalent.

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oh wait!! disclaimer..


I am not a vet, not in school... and don't play one on TV.


The nice thing about Ivomec... you can orally dose it on your goats!



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Yes, indeed, Westie. Same here - not a vet, just a critter owner.


I normally get the pour on version for the goats, rather than dose them orally. I alternate that with an herbal wormer. I have a couple of goats who try to avoid the herbal wormer, so I hit them periodically with the ivomec pour-on.

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Here's some info from a veterinary school...



Can an infected dog be treated?


Antibiotics are the treatment of choice for Lyme disease in dogs, as in humans. Several tetracyclines, such as doxycycline, and penicillin-like antibiotics, including amoxicillin and ceftriaxone, are very effective. Tetracyclines should not be given to growing dogs. Because B. burgdorferi has the tendency to persist in dogs, antibiotics should be given for three or four weeks, even though a beneficial effect can be seen after a few days of treatment. The long duration of therapy is also warranted because of the very slow multiplication rate of the organism, which takes 12 hours or more to double in number, as opposed to the minutes in which most bacteria do the same. Considering the fact that Lyme disease appears to be self-limiting, the need for a long-duration therapy may be arguable. However, there are now reports that tetracyclines may have a direct ameliorating effect on arthritis.


Not to mention that there are reports that the vaccine actually has been known to transmit the disease in some susceptible dogs.


Here's another blurb... Why I Don't Use Lyme Disease Vaccines



Meryl P. Littman, VMD, Dipl., ACVIM

Department of Clinical Studies School of Veterinary Medicine University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA


- Veterinarians are increasingly concerned about vaccinations in general, the scientific basis for frequency of vaccination, and possible vaccine reactions (anaphylaxis, immune-mediated disease, sarcoma formation, and other adverse effects). Practitioners are weighing the risks and benefits of various vaccines as well as the justification for using a Lyme vaccine. As a clinician living in an endemic region and working at the Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, I am hesitant to administer any of the currently available Lyme vaccines. In a recent survey, 19 of 27 veterinary teaching hospitals in North America did not provide Lyme vaccination at all; the other eight hospitals only did so if the owner requested it and was traveling to an endemic region. It is often difficult to accurately diagnose Lyme disease in endemic areas for several reasons. Many normal dogs have positive antibody titers to Borrelia burgdorferi. These dogs have been exposed but do not show evidence of illness. When a seropositive dog does have clinical signs of illness, it is thus difficult to determine whether the signs can be attributed to Lyme disease. One study in an endemic region demonstrated that 89.6% of healthy dogs had positive Lyme titers. There is no apparent correlation between positive Lyme titers and the occurrence of clinical signs. Only 4.8% of naturally exposed seropositive dogs demonstrated a limb or joint disorder with lethargy, fever, or inappetence; however, 4.6% of seronegative dogs also demonstrated such disorders. Most dogs that are seropositive for Lyme disease have not exhibited clinical signs of the disease. In my experience, an even lower percentage (3% to 4%) may be actually sick due to Lyme disease; I have found that borreliosis is over-diagnosed in some endemic regions. Lameness related to various causes (e.g., trauma, degenerative joint disease, immune-mediated polyarthropathy, rheumatoid arthritis, or arthropathy related to other infections) may be too easily ascribed to borreliosis if the clinician's index of suspicion is high and the owners are eager to accept this fashionable diagnosis. I recommend preventing tick exposure in the hope of avoiding not only Lyme disease but also other tick-borne infections endemic in my region (e.g., ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and babesiosis). I currently recommend monthly application of fipronil or an amitraz collar, to kill ticks before they attach and obtain a blood meal. Without such a meal, ticks cannot transmit organisms or lay viable eggs.



On top of all of this, it takes 24-48 hours of feeding, depending on whether it is a male (shorter feeding) or female, to transmit the disease organisms. The tick has to act as a syringe and inject the organisms, and it doesn't do that until it is fully engorged and finished feeding.


Here's one more site.

The Lyme vaccine can cause an untreatable form of Lyme disease and, like all bacterial diseases, provides short term immunity. It is not recommended at any of the vet schools in the United States. The human Lyme vaccine was withdrawn from the market. For all the reasons, I think that it's best avoided. But I have one more, very compelling reason.


There are other tick borne diseases that are much more serious than Lyme, for which we have no vaccines. So even if a very safe and effective Lyme vaccine were developed for dogs, having your dog vaccinated for Lyme isn't going to lessen the need for tick prevention. So it's hard to make the risk vs. benefit analysis for Lyme vaccination come out on the benefit side, no matter how you work the math.



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Mommadogs, This is a very pointed article not only for dogs but for humans.


Lyme's and the other tick borne diseases are being found to be much more pervasive and dangerous than the CDC has led us to believe. I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease many years ago and treated with the standard 2 courses of 10 day antibiotics but because of heart complications and hospitalization I was not given the last course completely.


Later I was treated aggressively with a different antibiotic but never fully recovered and the doctor who treated me was hounded by the government, as has been many such doctors because of a precedence set by the CDC for diagnosis and treatment. I am one of the victims who have been left with debilitating health issues and as yet, doctors are still using the faulty testing and guidlines.


Much research has been done on treating Lyme Disease and a law suit has been brought against the CDC for using people with conflicts of interest on the committee which decided on treatment guidlines. A new committee has been ordered, one on which none of the members are connected in any way with patents on drugs, vaccines, etc. Hopefully this will bring about changes in treatment guidlines in the near future but the wheels of justice turn slowly.


Surprisingly enough, it is veterinarians who are the most staunch supporters of the change. They were the first to see what worked and what didn't. Our own veterinarian worked with us with our dog who had lyme's disease. She did NOT present with arthritis but did have other symptoms. She died from the damage done by the disease.


AS you can see, Lyme disease and it's co-existing tick borne diseases have been a big part of my life for a long time. I have spent a lot of time in reading and research on this.


Thank you for posting this info. I had not seen these in particular.



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Mother, so sorry to hear you had this happen in your life. I hope you find relief in some way. My aunt (my grandmother's twin) died from side issues that had to do with Lyme disease. It's something I have been very concerned with for some time, as my dogs do often get ticks and I foster so many old guys that can't take the assault to their systems. It's certainly a horrendous disease that should be prepared for. Most dogs will recover, especially with treatment, but people seem to have the worst part of it.


I find that the 24 hour rule works well for us. Make sure that you never leave a tick on to feed any longer than necessary, and when you do remove it, remove it by pulling straight out without squeezing the body. Don't irritate the tick (by using vaseline, alcohol, nail polish, etc) or it may shoot it's "poisons" into your body. Just remove it using tweezers or other tool by grasping near the head.


I am most disturbed by the reports that Lyme disease was released from Plum Island and carried on deer across the water to the mainland. Was it intentional? Tinfoil hat anyone? frown

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Thank you Mommadogs. If you really want to have a reason for putting on your tinfoil hat you might check out these links. These are mild compared to some of the ifo I've found.







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