Vector-Borne Disease: Education, Risks, & New Protective Products for your Pet

Protecting pets from insect-borne diseases


A conversation with Dr. James St Clair: Veterinarian, Founder of TopDog Health

Dr. James St. Clair, an outspoken voice for dog health techniques and practices, has had a core focus on pet owner education since 2004. Warmly referred to as “Dr. J,” he owns and operates a 3 doctor, full service, small animal practices in central Connecticut (a hot bed for Lyme disease). In the fall of 2004 Dr. J founded TopDog Health & Rehabilitation, a progressive canine physical rehabilitation facility focused primarily post-orthopedic surgery patients and older arthritic dogs. TopDogs focuses on research and development of innovative joint health products and therapy support products. In addition, as a pet-owner and father of young children living in a tick-infested region of the country known for its prevalence of Lyme disease, he is an enormous advocate of insect-borne disease awareness and the latest prevention strategies.

Here are some important facts to know about vector-borne disease, the risks for your pet and the benefits of Insect Shield® from “Dr. J’s” perspective…

Vector-borne disease: Know the risks and facts
According to the CAPC (Companion Animal Parasite Council) 3 out of 4 veterinary clients (aka pet owners) want to know about the risk of vector-borne diseases.

A 2014 CAPC study found that 74% of vet customers want to know about vector-borne diseases and testing. And yet, only 55% of veterinarians are talking about parasites on a regular basis. Educating pet owners about parasites is an opportunity to make sure every pet is tested and protected. Education starts with your vet.

Fact: Disease transmission through insects is directly related to exposure, therefore preventative technology (such as Insect Shield®) is your first line of defense to minimizing exposure.

Fact: There is currently only a vaccine available for Lyme disease. There are not vaccines for all the other tick borne diseases such as Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis and many others.

Fact: Though topical flea and tick medications over the last 20 years have been transformative, in the sense they were much better than no protection at all, they have still had their challenges.

Fact: In my 12 years of practice, I have had numerous dogs who were both vaccinated and using topical flea and tick preventatives, and they still managed to contract Lyme disease. According to the CAPC 1 out of 16 dogs tested positive for Lyme.

Lyme disease:
Courtesy of CAPC website
Lyme Disease Map of the United States



1 out of 38 dogs tested positive for Ehrlichiosis (CAPC)
Ehrlichiosis is a bacterial illness transmitted by ticks that causes flu-like symptoms. The signs and symptoms of ehrlichiosis range from mild body aches to severe fever and usually appear within a week or two of a tick bite.

1 out of 26 dogs tested positive for Anaplasmosis (CAPC)
Anaplasmosis is a disease caused by the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilium. This pathogen is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected tick. The black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis) is the vector of A.

STEP TWO: Prevention BEFORE exposure
A key benefit of Insect Shield pet products and bug repellent clothes for dogs and permethrin spray:

There are a number of effective flea and tick solutions in the marketplace. However, consumers need to understand that this is not a one or the other situation and that there is no magic bullet. When it comes to protecting pets from insects and insect-transmitted diseases, it is a do everything you can approach. Given the importance of deploying all methods of protection, Insect Shield® pet clothing, permethrin spray and accessory products make total sense. You are utilizing products you already use every day, such as a dog bed, and gaining the added benefit of convenient, long lasting insect protection. Your pets are passively protected, simply by using or wearing every day pet products.

Preventing insect transmitted disease is a HUGE deal for our pets. 95% of the products recommended by the veterinary community are focused on treatment after the pets have been exposed to these insects… Finally, with Insect Shield®, we have clinically proven solutions that actually help prevent exposure in the first place. This preventative approach is hugely important in the battle against bugs and what we have been waiting for in the pet industry for a long time.

Minimizing exposure should be our primary objective. Pet owners need to think proactive vs. reactive. It is simplistically obvious, if you “deter” the insects from ever getting to your pet in the first place it minimizes the risks.

Incorporating pet protective methods is highly important, whether your dog lives a typical cushy, domestic lifestyle, or they are active, outdoor enthusiasts. Insects are everywhere. No matter where you live in this country (or world for that matter) insect disease transmission is a real live danger to both human and pet/animal health and well being. Incorporating the Insect Shield® Technology into pet clothing, bedding and accessory products is truly transformative.

Fact: This technology is hands down a great investment that has been clinically proven to work…

By, Dr James St Clair
TopDog Health

Find out which Canine Vector-Borne Diseases are in your Area
Using a canine vector-borne map below you can quickly learn what tick-borne diseases may be lurking in your neighborhood. This map is a great resource to assess disease risk in your area. (Courtesy of the Pet Health Network)

Tips for keeping your pet critter-free:

Tick Encounter Resource Center – Pet Prevention