With the warm weather starting and lots more to come, its a big time of year for pet owners. That’s right its tick season. Ticks can be a nuisance and a threat to your animals safety so we’re here to talk about them with some suggestions for dog and cat parents.
So whats the big deal about ticks?
Ticks are in arachnid that are closely related to mites. Ticks are what are known as an external parasite. They latch onto their intended target and leech blood off of them. The amount of blood that ticks leech is relativly small, the problem is that ticks are known to be vectors of disease. A disease vector is an organism that is known to carry a disease, not affected by it and then able to transmit that disease. While a tick is latched on it is possible that it can transmit a number of diseases.
In the North Eastern U.S we have several different variants of ticks. We have the deer tick and two different types of dog ticks. While they may have an animal in their name, all three are capable of biting and infecting you or your furry family members.
Tick borne diseases
The most famously known tick borne is Lyme disease. Lyme is the most common tick borne disease and can affect you as well as your animals. While treatable it can take a while to recover from and be an unpleasant recovery process. There are other diseases that ticks can carry though, such as rocky mounted spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, and many more less common diseases. All diseases are transmitted by tick bites and can affect both owner and animal.
There are several things one should do in order to help prevent ticks. Things such as lawn maintenance such as mowing the lawn and cleaning up leaves in the fall can help curb their number in your lawn. There are also medical ways to help combat ticks and their diseases. One could also pay for pest control where insecticides are used to help kill ticks.
One way to help stay upon tick disease is to bring your animal to the vet. By vaccinating your animal for lyme disease one can help lower the chance of the animal getting the disease. Making sure your animal gets their blood work done regularly can help as well. The 4DX test tests for some common tick diseases such as lyme and will allow your vet to get your animal the treatment they need.
Tick Prevention Products
There are many tick prevention products on the market that can be used to help prevent ticks from latching on. The Seresto collar is a great product that can last up to 8 months if it doesn’t get overly wet. Other products such as frontline and K9 Advantix work as a monthly dose that is placed between the shoulder blades. With any of these products it can always be best to ask your vet if they know what works best for the ticks in your area. Also never use dog products on cats or vice versa as it can be poisonous to each other.
Even if you try your best to keep ticks off your dogs they can still possibly latch on. In that case its best practice to remove the tick as soon as you notice it. Ticks can be removed with either tweezers or a tick key. You never want to remove a tick with your fingers as you may leave traces of the tick behind. With either of these tools grab the head of ticks where they bit in and remove the whole tick.
It is in the best practice to check your dog, cat and self frequently for ticks as disease can be transferred in as little as 36 hours from initial bite. Get in the habit of checking after a hike or other fun summertime activities. When removing ticks you do not want to leave the head behind as doing so is basically the same as not removing the tick at all.