As the weather gets nicer and begs more outdoor activity with your pet, it is important to understand the risks of ticks.
Ticks bites on both pets and humans can lead to Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever–which cause very dangerous and uncomfortable symptoms such as anemia, arthritis and even paralysis. Ticks are therefore something to be understood and avoided. Here are some facts about ticks as they affect your fur baby.
Ticks are ectoparasites, which means they live by feeding on the blood of mammals, birds, and sometimes reptiles and amphibians. They attach by inserting their mouthparts into the skin. Many ticks additionally secrete a sticky substance that keeps them attached. The places where ticks attach can become red and irritated, which is easier to spot on a human than it is on an animal with fur.
The best way to prevent ticks from attaching to your pet is to keep them inside and on leash when they are outside. Regardless (because even animals who stay indoors can get ticks that come in via other animals or humans)—we recommend a prescription medicine regimen to prevent both ticks and fleas in your animal.
If your dog runs free in your yard and you have woods, try to create a landscape buffer such as gravel or mulch to separate the lawn from the more tick-friendly wooded area.
Treat the garden areas with a pet-safe insecticide. Same with the inside of your home–treat your carpeting, furniture and walls with an eco-friendly tick preventative.
After all your attempts to prevent ticks from biting your animal, you may find a tick. There is a right way and a wrong way to get rid of ticks.
Don’t just pull them out by hand or try to burn them. Instead, use fine-tipped tweezers placed close to the skin. Carefully pinch the tick’s head with the tweezers, and without twisting, pull it straight out. Be careful not to crush or squeeze the tick’s body, which can accidentally cause the tick’s bacteria-filled blood to get into your pet’s bloodstream.
Once the tick has been removed, place it in a jar of insecticide or rubbing alcohol.
Do not flush the tick down the toilet or sink, as they can survive water.
Because ticks can carry so many diseases, protect yourself from contact by wearing gloves and thoroughly wash your hands after you’re finished
After removal, clean the area of the bite with an antiseptic. The bite area may itch, causing your pet to scratch or chew at it, so continue to monitor the area to make sure it doesn’t become infected or abscessed.
Lastly, continue to monitor your pet after you remove a tick from their skin–as symptoms of tick-borne diseases may not show up for several days or weeks. Stay on the lookout for fever, loss of appetite, lethargy or any stiffness in the limbs.
If you have any concerns, please call us.